Over fifteen years ago my dad planted a Magnolia tree that has grown to be a beautiful and fruitful testament of resilience. I say this because it took him four tries before he finally got the results that he was looking for! He planted three other trees in the same spot that, for whatever the reason, they did not take. Each time that a tree struggled to root, he would assess what caused it to fail. He considered the root system of the tree, the time of year that he planted it, how often he watered it, the quality of the soil and many other factors. But on the fourth try, the tree took off! As a result of being firmly rooted, to this day this tree provides shade, beauty and fragrant flowers, having withstood many harsh conditions including hurricanes and droughts.
Jesus paints a vivid picture of what it looks like to be firmly planted in Him. Notice in John 15:1, that Jesus uses an agricultural metaphor, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” Why does He draw this parallel? He’s illustrating our urgent need to stay connected to Him. In the kingdom of God, “Connectivity is the key to productivity.” Jesus declares that He is the true vine, suggesting that He is the authentic vine, in contrast to counterfeits. Why is this important? Because we must consider what we are connected to, and where we draw our nutrition (life source) from. We can find ourselves “drawing” self-worth and significance from so many other sources like: How much money we make; success; our possessions; popularity; our intelligence; our looks; our finances, and so on. The problem with these things is that they are unsustainable; they will eventually dry out, and ultimately cause those that trust in them to wither away.
Over the years, I’ve observed my dad prune the tree to keep it growing and healthy. At times, branches would become damaged and diseased, so he would take action for the sake of the health of the tree, and would cut away any damaged branches. Notice in John 15:2, Jesus says “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” A branch that does not bear fruit is actually taking away from the vine, hindering the rest of the vine. It is uncertain what Jesus meant by this specifically. Some scholars suggest that Jesus was referring those in the house of Israel that would reject Him as Savior and Lord. The text goes on to say, “and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” I’m thankful for this verse because it assures us that those that are bearing fruit (fruit of righteousness that comes as a result being connected), God takes the necessary measures to cut off dead, damaged and diseased aspects of my life.
Perhaps you’re in a season of life where it feels like you’re not moving forward; maybe you feel weighed down, your efforts aren’t flourishing or producing. God is getting ready to prune you! Maybe you’ve already gone through a season where God cut back some things in your life. Cut off friends or toxic relationships, separated you from a job, removed baggage from your past or relocated you to a place that seems dry and desolate. The good news is that spring time is coming! You see, pruning usually takes place early fall into the winter months. It is during the winter months of life that it seems that nothing is happening, but rest assured that a season of growth is coming! God doesn’t want for you to “just bear fruit,” but to bear much fruit!