In John 15: 1-2, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Over the past few days, I have encountered many who are going through a process of pruning. I like to call it a ‘shake up,’ or the days that are unusually challenging. I noticed it first in my own life, then at my workplace, as well as one ministry in particular that I have been asked to preside over. I must admit, no on likes to be pruned and no one like ‘shake ups.’ Both comes with some measure of pain and suggest to me a time for change, a season of transition and a shift. So my questions, how prepared are you for what lies ahead? If you’ve already gone through your pruning season, did the pruning and ‘shake up’ caught you off guard? Were you surprised by the leaves that fell off?
This past week, I have seen and heard of things that was a bit disturbing to me. It was obvious that apostasy is on the rise. Everything is just so commonplace now. Not many seem to really care. Men have also become lovers, boasters and pleaser of themselves. The word of God is being perverted. In the heat of that moment, I became my worst critic. Discouragement tried to pull me down. Doubt, unbelief and confusion came and took a seat in my vehicle of grace. The voice of reasoning made a subtle attempt to snuffle the voice of faith and hope.
At one point, I said to myself, change on your own free will or be changed by the force of divine nature. I became fully conscious of the transition and the shift that is currently taking place. A very close friend and I as we sat behind closed door, agreed that the hour is indeed upon us.
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Trees and their branches when they are shaken will shed some of their leaves – the dry leaves quite naturally, fall so easily but it takes and extra-ordinary amount of shaking to cause the green leaves and the ones solidly attached to the branches or the vine to fall. There is no need to prune that which is already dead but certainly that which has life, must be cut back so that it can bear even more fruit when it springs back to life again.
Taking a deeper look at the passage in John 15, pruning is not a punishment for bad branches. According to the book of Jude verse 12 in the bible, judgement is the reward for bad branches or those who lead many astray from the truth. On the contrary, pruning is for those branches that are bearing fruit. The branches that are unfruitful are cut off altogether. The vine dresser however, reserves his care and the attention for those that he sees are already fruitful to make them even more fruitful and productive once the process is completed.
So to those in the body of Christ who are going through a pruning process in your life right now when in fact you were told that this is the month (September) of your harvest – that you will be giving birth to your dreams, vision, plans and that you will have your breakthrough in your finances, your relationship, or even a new job, take heart! Be of good cheer! It is the Father who is tending to your spiritual branches in order to bring a greater harvest.
You may be saying, well I see good things in my life being touched and affected. Yet again my answer to you is, be of good courage! God will prune even the good things in our lives in order to get us ready for greater health and multiplication. And we also that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8: 28)
Jude 20-21 (ISV) encourage us in this way: “But you, dear friends, must continue to build your most holy faith for your own benefit. Furthermore, continue to pray in the Holy Spirit.” It is therefore beneficial to us, more so in the process of our pruning to build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. Like going to the gym and lifting a few heavy pounds to build and tone your muscles, prayer in the spiritual gym of pruning will build you, strengthen you and prepare you for the days that are ahead.
Stay on course no matter how difficult it may seem at the moment. You may be going through a rugged terrain. It may seem like the spiritual race that we have been asked to run amounts to an obstacle race where patience and wisdom is no where to be found. Those who you thought to be your friends have turned their back on you. There may be pot holes in the road, and your hands are outstretched as you struggle to keep your balance, but in spite of, your main goal is to stay focused. Only those who are fully focused on the kingdom of God can truly be prepared or fit for the journey.
You can choose to believe this or not but there is a change that is already taking place. There is a transition and a shift that is inevitable. My prayer for you this day however is that you remain rooted and grounded in the word of God which is the truth. Be fully engaged in every way possible – spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. It is only when we go through that period of preparation can we be adequately prepared for the process and be ready to receive the victory at the end.
What has been your experience in recent times with changes that are taking place in your life?