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Pruning. . .


Rose bush a few years ago. . .

“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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 1-4 NIV)

This is a photo of my daughter on the first day of school, oh about 2 years I would guess.  Notice the rose bush to her left.  When it is in full bloom it is the most beautiful rose you have ever seen!  Bright fuchsia pink with white edges.  It is absolutely stunning and fragrant too.  Here is what it looks like this season. . .

Notice the spotting on the leaves?  It’s black spot fungus!  And it is not only ugly to look at, it completely defoliates the entire bush.  I’ve been tending to it to kill the fungus with a fungicide but that’s not enough.  I have had to prune it back to the ground. It was drastic!  Even though it still produces flowers as beautiful as the ones you see in the first picture, it looks like those roses are on perched atop a skeleton.  The stems on the bush are completely bare of leaves.  In order to make this plant healthy again I have had to take the clippers to it in a very drastic measure.

Sometimes in the life of faith we need to be pruned.  It hurts like crazy.  We cannot understand what is happening.  We feel lonely, neglected, set aside, in the dark. . . forsaken even.  It is drastic and seems to be completely uncalled for, especially when we think we are being faithful and obedient (which we might be.)  But Jesus instructed his disciples saying that there are some branches in each of us that fail to bear good fruit. . . or any fruit at all for that matter.  Perhaps its selfishness or self-centeredness.  Perhaps it is holding on too tightly to someone or something.  Maybe it is apathy or lack of zeal.  Maybe it is stubbornness and a failure to forgive and move on.  Whatever it is. . . God the loving gardner knows and he tends to our health and well being even though at times it seems like senseless violence to our stems.  We might say, “See look there are still buds and flowers!  Why the shears??”  Only the Lord of lords knows the infection within our system and the cure for that leads to greater health and abundant fruit.  Most times we can only see the pruning for what it was after the fact.  While we are in it we often have no idea what is happening OR that it is for our own well being.

It is in these times of pain and suffering for our faith that we can dutifully remember the words of St. Paul, “Give thanks in all circumstances!”  Because eventually God will reveal what he was up to. . . or maybe he won’t (?) but still we rely on our faith and faith is not faith if we know all the answers beforehand!


Happy Gardening!

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