Every good gardener knows and understands the great value of pruning. To prune-is to cut away dead or overgrown branches or stems, in order to increase fruitfulness and growth. It's here that we find one of the great keys to growth, is to prune. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary to ensure growth.
Just this morning I was discussing this very topic with a group of beloved sisters from church, and it became apparent to me that maybe I had a tendency to "grow too many branches" in my own life. All the branches that stem naturally from who we are- being a wife, a mom, a child of God, a child of ACTUAL human beings who'd like to spend time with you (aka parents), a volunteer, an employee, a member of a team, a dreamer trying to put in the work, so on and so forth. What happens when we knowingly or not, realize that we are doing more, being more to everyone around you, and committing to more, and we become a picture of overgrown branches? Maybe some of your branches ARE in fact producing fruit, but could our fruit be sweeter?
"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."
Whoah! HEART CHECK! Can I be real with you for just a moment? Ready or not...here it comes: God is pruning me, and I haven't been all too thrilled about it! I didn't even realize until THIS morning, there was a better name for it than what I had been calling it this past week-"torture". (Insert dramatic titling here!) If you don't already know I am a momma to a beautiful and perfect little girl (Hailey Grace) who is special needs. And just about every time I've accepted and made peace with a new harsh reality of this journey, then comes another unexpected reality that God asks me to work out in my heart with Him. Currently: just when I thought we were heading into a season where the responsibility of being a full time care taker to my daughter was shifting, God's pruning the branches I hadn't expected Him too, and telling me to turn back and refocus on that as my priority. All for the sake of a greater harvest He promises is coming.
Let me just tell you.. I LIKE having lots of branches! I am a 'type A personality' who likes to plan things myself, organize EVERYTHING, take on new projects, dream, and help where it's needed. I am also extroverted in the sense that I NEED and LONG for deep human connection and friendship in a way that brings joy to my heart like nothing else does! So my purpose in having many branches is to be more connected, spread further, and selfishly..we're friends right?!? So I can tell you this fault about myself, right!?! I also have a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) where God will move in a big way for instance at a bible study on the one day I need to stay home, or in a conversation with my girlfriends at Panera for 3 hours until they kick us (so I fight saying “no“ to attending get together), or worry that if I'm not involved in the kids school functions they will surely grow up to be hard core criminals out of resentment for mommy not showing up to holiday parties at school (Ok...I'm laughing with you on that last one.. as I read it out loud it sound so asinine, but that's seriously where my brain goes!) Therefor, I just have branches for days in every which direction. But truth be told..the fruit they are producing, maybe isn't always the highest quality.
A friend of mine was just telling me this morning a story about her family going apple picking. Much to her surprise, and mine as I listened to her share-she was told it wasn't the large apple trees with branches for days, that produced the sweetest or largest apples. It was the row of small, ugly pruned, baby apple trees with only one or two branches that produced the largest and juiciest apples of their pickings! Who would have thought?
My takeaway? We can only do so many things well...before the quality is sacrificed in the name of quantity! And even then, hear me when I say sometimes you ARE producing good fruit, and God will STILL painfully prune you for the sake of producing ABUNDANTLY MORE for the ones He loves! For the sake of a SWEETER harvest!
God is pruning away branches that I've been trying to grow and nourish. Branches that I've sowed late nights into, time away from family, and my heart's best efforts. Again here comes that vulnerability and realness we hit on earlier... pruning those branches hurts a little. Even feels at times a little bit like a punishment. So I find myself asking God, "Why? What did I do? Was I too busy? Was I letting one branch take priority over the rest that I shouldn't have? Was I not producing fruit?" The visual of me asking these questions to God this past week probably looked pretty ugly in hindsight. But much like ugly pruned plants, God's not interested in me looking GOOD, but rather in me being FRUITFUL!
So yes, pruning can hurt! Oh my gosh...can it hurt!
And no, it isn't a fun process being cut back down to your former size.
But the PURPOUSE is to help us grow into something better!
So the next time God shows up in your life with pruning scissors, GET READY my friend, because God's about to grow something new in you!