Pruning is an important Biblical principal. It can also be a painful one.
John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 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.”
John constructs a beautiful metaphor here. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. We need Him to survive; if we find ourselves disconnected from Him, we will wither and die. But that’s just the beginning.
As a branch, we have two possible outcomes: we either bear fruit or we don’t. If we don’t bear fruit, God will cut us off; but even if we do bear fruit, we still get cut – just in a different way! In the best possible scenario, we still have to be ready for pruning.
Google defines ‘to prune’ as, “to trim (reduce the extent of something) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems (removing superfluous or unwanted parts), especially to increase fruitfulness and growth.” We all have things, people, and activities in our lives that are dead, overgrown or unwanted; we’re just not good at recognizing what these things are – and that is where the vinedresser comes in.
God is the vinedresser; not us. He does the pruning; we don’t. What branch gets to decide if it’s too long, or if it bears good fruit? That is a right and responsibility reserved for the vinedresser. God sees things in our lives that no longer belong there, and He cuts them off – for our own good. He prunes our lives so that we will be more fruitful in the end.
Before I became a full-time Pastor, I worked in finance. After a few years of working at a bank, I laid out a plan for a gradual transition into full-time ministry over a 3 to 5 year time frame. God had other plans.
One morning, with no warning whatsoever, I found myself in the HR office of the bank where I worked. I was being let go; not for any performance reason, but because my ‘position was being eliminated.’ I was being pruned. My career was overgrown, taking up too much of my time, and interfering with the plans God had for me. So he cut it out of my life.
We’re not always ready for pruning, and it never feels good; but God knows the plans He has for us. His understanding is unsearchable; ours is limited. God began to provide for my wife and I financially from the moment I stepped out of that HR office. He launched me almost immediately into full-time ministry. I soon found myself in Jonah’s shoes, vomited out of the belly of a fish called unemployment and back on dry land, with a chance to fulfill my destiny instead of running from it. He pruned me so that, in the long run, I would be more fruitful.
I thank God for that pruning every day.
-by Pastor Mike White