There’s a process each vinedresser undertakes during the winter months in order to prevent the vines from growing into a mass of tangled, overgrown, unproductive branches. This process is called pruning.
And it hurts.
I know because it’s winter and the Vinedresser has been cutting off and removing superfluous, undesirable twigs, branches, and roots within me. It’s not a hack job or careless surgery, but very deliberate and intentional clearing for a great purpose. The purpose is not for me, the branch, but for the Vinedresser. The goals are to allow the sunlight to penetrate, increase the quality of the fruit produced, and promote future growth.
As much as I didn’t want the pruning to take place, now I find myself begging for it. My eyes have been opened to my current reality: a mass of tangled, overgrown, unproductive branches.
So I find myself crying out, “Deliver me, O God.”
Emancipation from ego. Ego that is empty, drawing attention to itself and always boasting.
Liberation from lies. Lies of my identity, my worth, and my purpose.
Redemption from resentment. Resentment toward old friends, old passions, and hurtful comments.
Vindication from viciousness. Viciousness spewing from my mouth, my attitude, and my actions.
Clearance from complacency. Complacency in my relationships, my work, my faith.
Independence from insecurities. Insecurities of my outdated closet, my singing voice, and my “dumb” phone.
Freedom from fear. Fear of being lonely, of money, and of future plans.
Salvation from selfishness. Selfishness in my use of time, my money, and my talents.
Deliverance from distractions. Distractions like success, the desire to be accepted, and the need to be understood.
I’ve been wracked with comparing, regret, pride, bitterness, jealousy, self-sufficiency, spitefulness, malice, deception, and envy…deliver me, O God!
This is not the fruit I’ve been chosen and appointed to produce.
Jesus had a few words to say about vines, branches, and fruit.
“I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”
The cool thing about vine growth is that it’s a continuous process, though not always visible. Come spring, buds on the vine will start to swell. From there will grow shoots which then sprout tiny leaves. Flower clusters appear and eventually berries. That’s the annual growth cycle.
Oh, that I would remember the growth cycle and the goodness of the Vinedresser.
May the cleansing, the refining, the pruning continue. May there be less of the branch, less of the ugly, less of the overgrowth that all interfere with bearing much fruit. And may the branch always abide in the Vine.