The Toonstra family was with us for our annual missions convention over the weekend. They are a delightful family, and based on your generosity, must have touched your heart with their personal experience of giving up a comfortable life and life-style to plant a church in Macedonia.
During the Sunday School hour, Joel shared with us from John, Chapter 15. As you may recall this chapter begins with Jesus saying, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Joel illustrated that with a rose, but my thoughts immediately went to grapes. I have some experience with those and know what a difference proper pruning makes. This is how it should be done:
It seems to be radical. Wouldn’t you get more grapes if you left the vines long? Perhaps it might seem that way, and in fact you will get more grapes, but they won’t be the plump juicy grapes that you want to enjoy. Let me share a story.
A family member had a grape vine. I had urged him to prune it back severely so that the roots only had to nourish shorter vines. “No,” came the reply. “I need all the grapes I can get.” I didn’t push. A few years later, and that person found it necessary to cut back the vines. The results were spectacular. Instead of little-finger-nail size grapes, they were large, the grapes were very good and there were more grapes in each cluster.
That’s what God the father does to his fruitful followers. He removes part of the vine so that what remains will be stronger, healthier and more fruitful than ever.
What excess are you supporting on your “vine?” Is your life so full of activities and commitments that you are stretched, overloaded and not able to do your best? What needs to be pruned?