Let me begin this post with a disclaimer… I am no gardener! I am a Southern California transplant to the Midwest who loves the beauty of the countryside but who is also still at home in the city. I do not have my own garden or can my own preserves. There are no farmers in my family. Oh, and I hate bugs! So what am I do writing to you about principles of gardening?
The truth is, I was inspired by a message I heard on Sunday from our Children's Pastor. It in turn, brought me back to one of my all time favorite books, In My Father's Vineyard by Wayne Jacobsen.
Our Pastor holding up a bag of manure would have to count as one of the most memorable moments of the morning! He made his point clear… without the (excuse my language) 'crap' in our lives, we wouldn't grow. Those circumstances that stink can also enrich the soil. We perceive it as 'bad.' It works for 'good.' Though it sounds simple, we know it is not always easy.
The other thing that struck me was when he was talking about the pruning process. The fact is, that when a branch is not pruned, it is actually weakened. When it is pruned, the 'extra' and 'unnecessary' are taken away, leaving room for abundance. (Some of you know how much I love that word – he certainly got my attention using it!) In our affluent Western culture we associate 'extra' with abundance. Many of us are learning that abundance has little to do with what we have and has everything to do with what we appreciate. It goes far beyond material belongings! The truth is, nothing will have more impact on the health and fruitfulness of the vine than pruning. Here is how the author of In My Father's Vineyard describes it.
"He prunes us so we can bear more fruit. He cuts away the clutter from our lives. First, to rid us of canes that are broken or unhealthy. Second, God cuts to rearrange our lives under his agenda. Growth and harvest have a way of multiplying opportunities in our lives, but those opportunities can spread us so thin we are fruitless. The pruning resets our focus so we can concentrate on what he wants us to do rather than everything we can do. Better to do a few things that are fruitful rather than lots of things that are futile, things that turn out to be empty foliage."
Are you feeling the pain of pruning or getting a whiff of a pile of manure? Your life may not look quite the way you wish it would these days. The truth is, the Master is all about the fruit, not about how things look from the surface. He will do what we let him to assure us of a healthy garden, yielding a bountiful harvest, full of good fruit. Be encouraged, my friends!
Enduring the Pruning With You,