In John 15:1-2 Jesus says, “I am the true Vine and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away:  and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

This was a great year for blackberries. The canes grew like crazy, and the fruit was big and flavorful. Sure, I know blackberries grow on canes and not vines, but they are similar in many ways. In fact, God’s growing process for us is very much like to the pruning process for blackberries. And in this blog, I want to talk about how God helps us mature so we can walk in His purpose.

The idea of pruning goes against every bit of internal logic I have. Why cut away something that you have taken the trouble to grow? Bigger is better. It’s more, right? But it isn’t. If you leave blackberries alone, you will get a tall, tangled mess of branches that blackberry growers love to call a bramble. You will get fewer berries because the plant puts all its energy into the canes, and your meager harvest will be harder to pick—especially if you grow a thorned variety that is so rigorous here in Texas. Ouch!

As the growing season has drawn to a close, there’s work to be done to make sure our plants are healthy and strong for next year and every cane needs to be pruned. Nothing gets a free pass. If you see a thick, vibrant cane with no fruit on it, that’s a first-year cane, which will have berries next year. This cane gets something like a haircut. It’s cut back so it can be tied to the highest support wire.

As Christians, WE are a lot like those first-year canes. There are times when we are clearly in the growing process, but everything is not as it needs to be. That’s when God shows us that we need to change or correct something. In Hebrews 12:5 the Bible says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as His son.”

It’s not easy or painless, but whatever made us think following Jesus was meant to be easy? Jesus corrected His disciples when they were arrogant or short-sighted, and because He loves us, He corrects us when we are wrong. I hate cutting back a thriving, growing cane, but God is not like me. He is always wise. He knows what is essential, good, and productive. He knows the end from the beginning.  What helps me to accept His ways when they are not my ways is to remember that He is good all the time and to be thankful. I submit to His wisdom. He is under no obligation to submit to mine. And when I say it that way, it helps me to rest in Him, especially in circumstances that are hard for me to wrap my head around. We don’t need to understand where God is taking us, we just need to trust Him for the journey.

The second kind of pruning in our lives is far more dramatic, but just as essential. It’s what you do with second-year canes.  I plan to talk about it in next week’s blog.  For now, I want you to remember 1 John 3:2 which says, “Beloved now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is.” As sons of God we should expect God to discipline us, to help rid us of the things that need to be cut in our lives. We will one day be like Him, but for now, the fact remains that He is the Vine and we are the branches, and we need to be pruned in every season of life to avoid becoming an unsightly and useless bramble that is hindered from His plan and purpose.

— Written by Jill

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