Our yards have needed some extra work lately. That’s especially true for those of us in Texas. We don’t usually get snow, but this past winter was record-setting. For most of us, there are some plants that just gave up! Most of them needed to be really pruned so that the roots would be able to do their job.
After the tough season we have come through, our plants can teach an important spiritual lesson. Sometimes it’s best to submit our souls to that same process of pruning we apply to our plants.
IF IT’S NOT GREEN, IT’S NOT GROWING
Several of our plants looked bad after the freeze, but I waited for spring to arrive before choosing to remove them. I had hope for all of them, until it was obvious they didn’t make it. I snapped off a branch and realized it was brown all the way through. It easily broke in my hand because it was attached to dead roots.
Those of us who live in Texas have learned that once April rolls around, if it isn’t green, it’s not growing. And so it goes with our spiritual lives.
Sometimes we attach our hopes, even our trust, to something other than the true vine. This past year, we learned that those things don’t survive.
What was growing in your life that didn’t make it through to the spring season?
What things did you place your hope and trust in that didn’t prosper?
Is it time to do some pruning?
Because if something isn’t green, or evergreen, it’s not growing.
John 13–20 are some of the most poignant chapters in Scripture. Jesus’ beloved disciple records the lessons Jesus spoke during his last days on earth. In chapter 15, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away” (vv. 1–2a).
This past year, I think our heavenly Father pulled his pruning shears out in order to do a lot of work. Everyone’s life was altered in some way during 2020 and the winter that followed. Truthfully, no one is really certain the changes are over. But, there is a lot of hope. God will always be at work in the world, even on the hard days.
THE ROOTS MATTER MOST
I don’t think spring has ever felt like such a blessing! It was such a joy to worship God surrounded by people again. Easter Sunday felt like a time of rebirth and renewal. Joy always returns in the morning.
It has been amazing to watch a rebirth in some of our plants too. I was just about to pull out a plant when I realized it was sprouting at the base. All it needed was the dead stuff cut off. Now it seems like that plant looks different every morning!
That plant is what prompted this blog post. It has served as a parable to me this spring. The rest of John 15:2 says that “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Is that what God was doing in our lives last year?
As I look back on 2020 and the winter of 2021, I realize I had put a lot of trust in things other than God. We all worried about politics, people, and possessions. There were a LOT of days it was tough to find anything that looked like it was going well.
We had a year of quiet, and it was a great year to spend focused on him. Now, as spring returns, how will your life look different?
Maybe it feels like you have been cut down to the roots. But under God’s care, your life could be changing daily, growing and becoming something changed and stronger than it was before.
It’s the root of our lives that matters most. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Everything we did last year that was Spirit-led will produce fruit. Everything that was born from a different root will not be worth keeping. A lot of artificial fruit looks really good, but, in the end, fake fruit doesn’t feed anyone. That’s a good metaphor for the fruit we produce in our lives.
Real fruit is born from the real root, and Jesus said, “That’s me.”
WATCH THE THINGS THAT COME TO LIFE
Spring is a season of rebirth. How like God to make sure Passover, and then Easter, would be celebrated in the spring. Jesus died and rose again so that our souls could live eternally. The disciples thought Jesus had been “cut down,” but he was about to change the world.
From the root of Christ’s work on earth, look at the branches! That growth is available in each of our lives as well.
I’m still keeping my eye on a few plants. If they don’t grow, I’ll pull them. But, I have a new favorite plant now. It’s the plant that reminded me of an important spiritual lesson. We can come through hard times, better and stronger, if we just let our perfect vinedresser prune away the stuff in our life that is dead or dying.
If the roots are good and the plant comes back to life, keep it. If there are things you have done during this past season that have strengthened your soul, keep those things and submit the rest, the lesser things, to the perfect vinedresser.
SOMETIMES GOD USES SHEARS, OTHER TIMES IT’S THE LOPPER
One last thought: the longer we let the bad stuff grow, the more difficult it is to cut.
If God has come to you with his pruning shears in hand, be glad. He is just making sure your life can produce more fruit. But, when he has to reach for the loppers, pay attention. Sometimes we allow things to grow that never should have taken root in our lives. If God had to use the loppers, pay attention. Watch for the signs those things are starting to grow and weed them out early!
I probably won’t replant the same plants that died this winter. They looked good, but they just weren’t strong enough for the tough times. The same is true in our lives spiritually. If God lopped it out of our lives, he didn’t want it there. On the other hand, nurture all that the Lord is pruning.
Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7–8).
ENJOY THE YARD WORK
I’m going to spend this month writing about replenishing our souls. After a tough winter, our yards needed a little help and so do our souls.
I know I have had a good time this year cutting some things back. God is always at work in our lives, using everyday lessons for his greater good.
He really is the perfect vinedresser.