“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.”
Pruners in hand, I walk the garden paths, watching for patches like this lovely clump of blue Veronica.
There’s a lot of deadheading to do.
It sounds a lot like something a ninja would do to a deadly enemy, right? One almost envisions a crazed medieval queen shouting “Off with his head!” while munching on caviar in a gold-gilt throne room.
But reality is a lot less sinister.
I’m simply watching for spent flowers that are past their prime. I will cut them off with my snippers – deadheading them with a purpose in mind.
See, if I leave them alone, their natural impulse is to make seeds. And don’t you want seeds? Isn’t that the whole purpose of most plants, to propagate themselves?
Yes. I see that I’m confusing you. Let me explain.
It’s a question of energy.
Plants that put their energy into producing seeds are using up valuable resources trying to make more of themselves, when what I really want is for them to put their energy into their root stores so that they will have the best possible chance of surviving a harsh winter to come, while getting larger and more magnificent with age and maturity.
So it’s a question ironically of producing more by producing less. If you know what I mean. Clipping off the spent blooms tidies up the plant’s appearance while allowing it to skip the reproductive phase and hoard energy for next year’s growth.
Less seeds now, more blooms later.
Makes me wonder.
What should I be trimming out of my life today, in order to reap the benefits down the road?
This passage from John contains an image of grape vines. Grapes were common in that locale, so grapes made a good starting point for teaching real life truths that folks could relate to. I imagine that Jesus was walking by a vineyard at the time – perhaps they were even watching as the workers pruned and cut away branches. Jesus includes 2 reasons for cutting a grapevine back – to remove dead branches, and to remove extra growth to produce more fruit.
I can see why dead stuff needs to be cut away in my life. Some things just need removing. Relationships which are unhealthy. Bad or harmful habits. Poor attitudes, unproductive thought patterns. Hard as it is, those are the no brainers. It’s obvious why those things need a good chop.
But cutting away good stuff to ensure more potent future growth?
Like when I deadhead. I mean, seeds are good. They represent future growth and productivity. Free plants when budgets are tight are a gift, right?
But in this case I’m thinking of the overall health and viability of the plant itself. I’m not thinking quantity. I’m thinking quality. The energy loss generated by producing seeds when I don’t want the seeds produced is too high a price to lay for a few straggly seedlings. The sacrifice is worth it.
So out come the pruners…
Have you had something cut away recently that you are grieving? Are you resentful that something good has been removed from your existence?
Ah, friend. It hurts. I know. It pinches. You feel the loss.
Perhaps – perhaps you are being pruned. Perhaps there is good being cut away, to make room for the great. Perhaps temporary blessings are being culled to prepare the way for eternal glory. Perhaps what was once beautiful needs to be disposed of in order to increase your potential to bloom.
All I know is the Master Gardener knows what He’s doing. He isn’t randomly snipping away just to see you squirm. There is a purpose in every cut, a vision of glory and beauty to come that can only be brought about in this way, in this time.
And that long term vision is worth the short term loss.
Accept the pruning for the sake of future glory with me?
Father, it hurts when what is good and blessed is trimmed away. We don’t understand. It hurts to lose a good gift. Remind us that You always work with our long term blessing in mind. We love and trust You to do only what is for our good. Amen.