We have a rose bush at our front door that had never done very well. It didn’t help that I’m not the best gardener.
The bush had become very straggly looking and hadn’t produced a single rose for years. I knew the answer was to prune it, but because I wasn’t sure how to do this, I just left it. And so it went on, year after year, growing taller, and wilder looking but never producing the beautiful fragrant yellow roses it had on it when we first bought it.
A few months ago finally, with the help of a gardening book, I pruned the bush. Actually against all my instincts, nearly crying, I cut it right down to just a few inches from the soil, so that through the wintertime there were just a few leafless dry looking stalks. I was convinced I’d overdone it. Killed it for sure!
About two weeks ago, with a heavy heart, I told myself that as soon as the weather warms up a bit, I’ll admit defeat and dig up the ‘dead’ bush.
Today, I went outside to check on one my other plants and guess what I saw! New branches on the rose bush I had thought was dead, and not only that…..three tiny rosebuds!
This reminds me of John 15:1-2 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
We glorify our Father when we bear fruit and the only way for this to happen is by pruning.
When you’re going through that pruning process with God it’s painful – no one actually enjoys it. But God, our Father, described here by Jesus as the Gardener, is skilful – He knows exactly what He’s doing and His touch is tender and loving.
You may feel as though you’ve been stripped right down to just stalks, but new growth will come in the ‘Spring’.
I think about my scraggly rose bush before pruning. When we first got it it was covered in lovely yellow roses. Then, because it had never been pruned, many new non-producing shoots started to grow, from all sorts of funny angles. All of these branches were covered in leaves but most had no rosebuds. Gradually this became the norm. The leaves on these fruitless branches started to block the sunlight from getting to the existing roses. In addition to that, most of the nutrients that should have been going to the roses were going to these non producing branches, sapping the very life out of the producing branches, until those branches stopped producing flowers too. The bush just gave up – It just didn’t have the strength because it was too busy trying to produce all these green useless leaves. Not at all what it was created to produce.
Our activities may seem good and well intentioned. They may even seem productive, as my rosebush did. We might think we see growth when all the while non producing things we fill our lives with are actually cluttering up our lives, blocking light from the Son. Sapping our strength because we are not getting the nutrients we need in order to grow and produce fruit.
We could stay as we are – for years even, just like my rosebush. Or we can make the choice to surrender to our Father the Gardener- the Vinedresser, asking Him to prune the things in our lives that stop us growing and producing fruit. It takes courage, humility and strength. But it’s He who gives us these things!