In one of my ministry groups, we are discussing the fruit of the Spirit. Last night, someone brought up the idea of God needing to prune us to make us more effective. The exact context was talking about things that harm us or our testimony. The application was that God needs to cut off what isn’t useful. That’s great… for a tree.
Not every fruit-bearing plant is a tree. Some things are vines.
My mom and I tried (unsuccessfully) to grow watermelon in our garden last year. Watermelons grow on a vine, and let me tell you, the vine was crazy. It found its way all over our back porch. It was climbing up our fence and strangling our tomatoes. After about three weeks of wild growth, we decided to trim it back. There was a slight problem. It was all one vine. It was not many branches of one vine, it was one vine. One wrong cut would kill the plant. So, we had to unravel it. We found it to be well over ten feet long. The poor thing was so busy growing and reaching that it couldn’t produce fruit. The nutrients were spread too far. They were spread over too much ground space. If we did have any watermelons, they would be too far from the roots.
Sometimes, God has to prune back healthy, vibrant life in order to ensure an abundant fruitful life.
At the moment, I am like that watermelon vine. I have myself spread too far. I’m not involved in bad things. I’m not involved in a variety of ministries. I have one vine. One vine that has just become so long that I can’t keep up with it. I can’t bring forth abundant fruit when I am trying to pump energy through 10 feet of vinework.
This is not the first time I have had to trim back. I have to cut off things I love. Ministries that are healthy and God-honoring, in order to make sure that I am at my top level of performance in the ministries that are closest to my roots.
But God is the Divine Husbandman. I have to trust Him. Just like that watermelon plant, if I am left to myself, I will keep spreading, looking for coverage instead of productivity. When the first frost in my life comes, I will be tilled under and marked as fruitless. I don’t want that. Neither does God.