My wife put me to work in our backyard yesterday. It’s that time of the year… time to prune and shape our trees for the coming spring growth. I got my college degree in horticulture, so I like nice shaped trees and a well manicured landscape. So it means I have to cut things back for growth. And when I make those cuts, the tree looks pretty bare. It looks scraggly. And at times, I wonder if it’ll even grow back. I wonder if the tree finds it painful or does it know that it needs these intentional wounds to grow healthy and full again.
To be honest with you (and I wish this wasn’t so), this seems to be the way Jesus prepares us for growth. He prunes us. He removes the old wood in our lives that keep us from being shaped by and for Him. It’s what He talks about in the famous vine and branches passage in John 15:1-5. There’s another passage that talks about pruning, but here it’s called discipline in Hebrews 12:7-11
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Notice that last phrase… “afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” As we allow Jesus to prune those places in our lives that need to go, those places that cloud our vision of Him, those places that rob Him of glory and us of good, there is a fruit borne… a fruit filled with righteousness, wholeness, and delight in Him. He is gracious to prune us because He loves us so.