For about 20 years my husband and I enjoyed the benefits of a small orchard. Nothing satisfies quite like fresh fruit still warm from the morning sun.
However, every spring, in order to achieve maximum yield, we spent the better part of a day or snatches from several days pruning.
Can you imagine what those trees might have said, if they could talk, when they saw us approaching with our various sized loppers and saw in hand? With no way to flee and nowhere to hide, their future remained at our mercy.
If Trees Could Talk When Pruned
Picture with me some possible responses:
- No, no, not again! It hurts too much.
- Can’t you just leave me the way I am?
- Please, not that limb. That’s my favorite.
Nevertheless, we proceeded with the task before us.
Finally, when we believed our mission accomplished, my father inspected our work. Regardless of how drastic our actions, we had never pruned quite enough. In fact, some years I thought Dad would surely kill a tree or two by the time he added his finishing touches. They looked so bare, stripped of all but a basic outline of their former selves.
Yet, within a short time, each tree began filling out again, more beautiful than ever. Then blooms appeared … everywhere! Later, rather than scarce, knotty fruit, we harvested an abundance of large, healthy, tasty apples, pears, peaches, and cherries—enough to eat, freeze, can, and share with others.
Left to themselves, the trees’ harvest would have been minimal and poor quality. The work my husband and I did improved their potential. Yet, my father, a connoisseur of vintage fruit with years of experience, knew exactly what they needed, forcing them to produce a bumper crop of the biggest and best year after year.
If Trees Could Talk at Harvest
Now, imagine the trees’ subsequent expressions of gratitude:
- Thank you. The pain was worth it.
- I’m so grateful you didn’t leave me the way I was.
- Look at how much I produced because of the tough choices you made!
Can you see that in our spiritual lives as well?
When God prunes the dead weight, we often find ourselves kicking and screaming all the way. It hurts, and we don’t like it!
God also trims the less productive, making room for previously untapped capabilities to emerge. Yet, we want to hang on to the comfortable, familiar ways of our past. Nevertheless, God knows the comfortable and familiar, much like an old pair of gardening shoes, have seen their better days. They need to be replaced.
Because of God’s work, we discover previously untapped skills. We grow stronger, blossom, and bear fruit like never before. Much good comes from all that pain.
In all probability we will never see the full benefit of God’s shaping our lives. Just as an apple tree remains unaware of the multitudes who enjoy its harvest, we won’t know how far our labors reach. Long after our most productive years, the seeds from our fruit will continue to multiply through harvests of their own — just as our Father, the master gardener planned.
“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” John 15:2 (NIV).