I still remember the day we moved in.
Boxes were everywhere.
The backyard needed a good lawn-mowin’.
Weeds had piled up.
Shrubs had died and needed to be pulled.
The garden was overgrown.
And I was sad thinking I might have to cut down the grapevine.
To me, my grapevine looked like a brittled mess…. so it’s a good thing Doug knew!
Without my retired-horticulturist-vineyard-owning-neighbor to the rescue, I would have butchered my perfectly thriving grapevine to complete death! I had no idea it was alive and well.
“How do you know what you’re looking at?” I asked.
“It’s easy,” Doug replied. “Follow the branch to see how connected it is to vine – which is where it gets it’s nutrients. If the branch looks healthy and clear of disease, the branch will produce healthy grapes. If it doesn’t look good, you can cut it off.”
He then started hacking branches left, right and center, which confused me. Didn’t he just say my grapevine was alive and well? If so, why was he cutting so much off?
“Don’t worry,” he said, as if reading my mind, “the vine is great, but you have a few rogue branches. Once I prune them, the remaining branches will get more nutrients and your grapes will be bigger.
Naturally the story of the vine and the branches played over in my mind as I thought of this life and our Christian journeys.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.” -John 15:1-5
It has now been a year since we’ve moved in. I’ve witnessed two seasons from the grapevine in my backyard. One year without a pruning and one year with, and I gotta tell ya…. never has this passage of scripture come more alive.
Without Doug’s intervention – a.k.a last summer – the grapes from my vine were small, bitter, dry and barely edible. But WITH a little TLC from his pruning process – a.k.a THIS summer – the grapes are big, crisp, tasty and oh so delicious – a night and day difference! It was as if God spoke to my own heart to say, see what kind of fruit your life can produce when you allow me to snip away the rogue branches?
I say the same thing to you.
We all have rogue branches in our lives that steal nutrients from the branches God has called us to be. Culture tells us we need to do, be, move and live in a million different directions, which cause us to constantly pull away from our connection to the vine. With every yes we say to the world, we inch further and further away from producing the kind of fruit Christ desires us to produce.
But if and when we’re willing to assess our lives and seek His wisdom about the state of our health, God will pull a “Doug” and prune away the rogue branches while reminding us that, yes, indeed, we are alive and well, but with a little help from His pruning process, we will produce an amazing harvest.
Isn’t that a *grape* promise?