Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of what I have said to you.
4 Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. 5 I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. 6 If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.
7 Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered.” John 15:1-7 (CEV)
Spring with the budding of trees and flowers has brought color to my yard. After the winter, which was very harsh in some parts of the country, spring is a wonderful rebirth. I am not going to pretend to be a horticulturist as I share what I do know from growing up around a farm.
Pruning. There is a process of cutting or pruning plants back so that they may produce more fruit and not just leaves. If you’ve ever seen an apple or peach orchard, the trees are planted far enough apart so they are able to receive ample sunlight and rain. Weak branches are trimmed to allow for more growth on strong, stable branches.
Rain. I remember my mother praying for rain and also praying for the rain to stop. It is a delicate balance in raising crops. It is wonderful to smell a spring rain. It is not so wonderful to feel the rage of the rain that comes with a hurricane.
Sunlight. Have you ever had a night of worry as you watched your child who was ill? The minutes seem to creep along, almost as if an hour had twice as many minutes. And then the sky seems to slowly lighten. The sun begins as an orange sphere which comes over the horizon. It is so powerful in it’s light, even burning off fog until a new day begins with hope and healing.
Grafting. It is an interesting thing to see what happens when two plants are crossed. Take a tangerine and a grapefruit together and it becomes a tangelo, larger than a tangerine but without the bitterness of a grapefruit. Jesus called all to come into the sheepfold He has prepared.
As I look back on the last ten years I can see many difficult times of pruning. It was often a very painful process. But when I look what I was producing, doing for God’s Kingdom, 10-15 years ago I know I now have a better focus and my ears are tuned for God’s voice. I want to be connected with Jesus. I want to follow His commands and footsteps. And His love and forgiveness are gifts I receive with an open heart.
Answered prayer. Yes, it comes more often not because God has become more lenient but because I have learned to ask for what is in His heart that will bless me. I am learning how wonderful it is to grow in God’s garden and be fed with His Living Water and Fresh Bread.
In the Garden written by C. Austin Miles & sung by Alan Jackson