The Father never prunes haphazardly. Use great consideration to note the things that seem especially painful to you right now…those things which seem to crop up regularly. Branches (“things”) that are especially rooted in us take more than a tug to remove. Some branches must be sawn-off. They are heavy life-suckers, taking essential nutrients from the fruit production of the main branches. These are things that need to be removed from our character and likewise from our relationships. They hinder the purity of Christ that He longs to exhibit in us. True husbandmen only do that which is best for the fruit production of the tree; how much more careful our Heavenly Father with the things that He longs to see removed from our lives! All pruning is for our good and our fruitfulness! Lay down submissively under the skillful hands of the One Who loves us so deeply…so deeply that He doesn’t allow the life-sucking sins of useless “branches” to remain.
Could it be a relationship that has been lacking fruit for a long time? Is it taking the time, energy, and resources that should be directed towards something more fruitful in the Kingdom? I am, of course, not talking about a place where you know the Lord has called you to. Those hard places and relationships just may be the very catalyst for our growth, but the relationships I am speaking of are not backed with God’s grace and power in us, instead they seem to drain that life out of us. Remember that even Jesus let people walk away. He set His standard, His requirements, and did not coddle them. He did not try to appease them into the kingdom. He was saddened (deeper than we realize) that the relationship would not be what God intended it to be, but He wasn’t willing to stay and have it be fruitless either.
Or could it be a mountain that, like the Israelites, you feel like you keep going round and round? Is it because, deep down, you are not humbling yourself about that thing that keeps getting brought up to you? So much grace comes with humility! So much fruitfulness comes with repentance! God wants that bad habit gone and pruning stimulates growth. Period.
John cut back two old apple trees so much so that I couldn’t believe it after I saw them. He did it at the beginning of spring when everyone tells you not to, and cut every single branch that did not shoot off of the main three branches. It looked pitiful. Barren. Dead for sure.
Three months later, just tonight, he said, “Let’s go see that apple tree that I supposedly killed and see if it survived.” (Just a hint of teasing in his voice.)
Of course it had not. The leaves are deep, deep green. The new growth is stronger than ever and all the little “suckers” that were growing were they did not belong, have been picked off as needed. That tree is old and was probably on its last leg. But with some covering at its base along with the major pruning job ~ it seems to be coming back to life.
To repeat what the Lord reminded me of tonight in the little orchard, is that He is never haphazard when He prunes. He carefully examines us each and every day, leaving things to see if they will be fruitful and making the choice to cut off where He sees a branch that is not helping. Why don’t we just take the branch off and give it willingly? 🙂 Regardless of how it feels, we must ~ we must ~ renew our minds with the truths that God loves us or He wouldn’t be doing it, and it will only make us more fruitful in another area of our lives. This is maturity. When we lay it down. When we allow it to be cut off because, in faith, we see the greater harvest coming.