I tend to drive my wife a little crazy. Actually, completely crazy is more accurate!
I get these random ideas, and then I try to make them a reality as soon as I possibly can. But in order to move forward, I first have to get permission from my lovely wife. I mean, if I want to stay married it’s probably a good idea.
In the past, one random idea I had was to get chickens. We now have four! Another time it was getting an old car. Now I have a 1960 Rambler American. #greatestpurchaseever
A few years back, my random idea was getting a sheep. Just one! Well, we’re still sheep-less. Fortunately for my wife, I guess the city of Sioux Falls had something to say about that one.
But one day last summer, my latest random idea was to get vines. You know, just some grapevines. Why? I’m not really sure!
Earlier that same day I happened to stop by a garage sale at my neighbor’s house, and I couldn’t help but notice all the vines and grapes in his yard. I’ll consider it a God moment. Or something.
I came home and I think I told my wife something about how Jesus talked about vines in the Bible. That meant our family definitely needed to get some vines for ourselves!
Needless to say, we now have two grapevines planted in our backyard, and they’re growing fast.
All this talk of vines got me thinking about Jesus’ words to his disciples at the beginning of John chapter 15.
In the first two verses Jesus says,
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
Now, I know I don’t want to be one of the branches that is cut off and set aside. But if I am growing and am becoming more like Him, God’s still going to prune and trim my life? But I thought faithfully following Jesus would mean no pruning. I thought if I did all the right things that my life would be great and easy—the opposite of pruning.
According to Jesus, the reverse is true: God (the gardener) will actually prune us more when we decide to follow him. But how exactly does God prune us?
Here are a few different ways that God does just that:
The closer we get to God, the more He will begin to convict us and highlight the things in our lives that need to change. The longer we follow Jesus, the more He will point out different places that need attention.
For myself I can remember in college as a new Christian, God highlighting things in my private life and dating relationships. Things that never used to bother me, God began to intentionally prune and trim in my life.
Fast forward to today, and even after following Jesus for 18 years, God is still pruning and convicting me. Now it’s often in the area of my patience, or rather, impatience.
In these moments when God is pruning us, whether it’s with something big or something small, we can either choose to be faithful to God, allowing Him to prune us, or we can choose to distance ourselves and walk away.
God prunes us through conviction not because it’s easy, not because it’s pain-free, but because He wants us to grow, and continue growing even more.
Our God, our gardener, will use anything to prune us—good things, and bad.
I know for myself, the two biggest things that have pruned me are two of the greatest blessings in my life: marriage and parenting. I would’ve never considered myself a selfish person until I got married and had kids. Can I get an Amen?
God can use good things, but He can also use circumstances that He doesn’t like, that He didn’t cause, that He flat out hates.
Things like cancer. Divorce. Bad health.
He didn’t cause them. He doesn’t like them. But He can use them.
Our God uses circumstances to develop our character.
He uses circumstances to show us what really matters.
God, the great gardener, uses circumstances to grow us even more.
Through Steps of faith.
God can prune us in the times and places where he challenges us to step out. Instances when he asks us to step out even when we’re unsure, feel inadequate, or are completely outside of our comfort zone.
For me, that was saying yes to following Jesus when I was unsure if God wanted anything to do with me. It was leading a small group in college when I knew very little about the Bible myself. It was giving up my five-year plan for God’s.
In these moments, God reaches out his hand to us and asks, “Do you trust me? Well if you do, then hold my hand and take the step out.”
Once more, why does God prune us through conviction, circumstances, and steps of faith?
Because He loves us and He wants us to grow even more.