I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean [pruned] because of the word that I have spoken to you. – John 15:1-3
Did you know that spring is the season when grape growers prune their vines? This seems counter-intuitive to me at first glance. After all, the months of March and April are when life is bursting onto the scene. After the bleakness of winter, green shoots are covering the ground. Why on earth would someone want to cut off this new growth?
Yet, that’s exactly what vintners do. Not only do they prune their vines, they prune them drastically. Each plant will have around 90% of the growth from the previous year uncermoniously snipped off. Plants that had grown a rich network of shoots and buds will be hacked down to a single shoot and just a few buds. Compared to the impressive, multi-branched vines that existed before, these new stumpy shoots look pretty sad.
Yet this remnant will become the permanent shoot, lasting the entire life of the vine. It is through this one shoot, chosen out from all the others, that the vine will grow and bear fruit over several seasons. As unfathomable and heartless as the deep cuts of spring may seem at the time, by summertime the vineyard will be flourishing.
This spring, I’m feeling like the bushy vine that needs to be pruned. So much important growth has taken place over the past year, and I’ve gained a lot of shoots that feel very important to me. Yet, I can sense that in order to be faithful to the work that God has for me, I am going to have to face the loss of many of my most precious projects. Jesus is here to do his pruning/cleansing work. Which is the single shoot in my life that God wants to act through? Which are the handful of buds where the Spirit wants to bear fruit?
As we enter into the joy and growth of springtime, are you experiencing this call? Are there ways that the Spirit is inviting you to refocus your life? Are there activities, relationships, or other responsibilities that you are being asked to set aside? Is there a new sense of direction emerging that might require quite a bit of clipping to make room for? Are you willing to be pruned?