Judicious Pruning

I am the real vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful. John 15:v2

Roses, clematis and hop vines climb intertwined over the rickety trellis, the flowers cascades downwards in an unruly fashion. Like a mop of unruly hair, these climbers need a regular trim to keep some semblance of order.

Last year I planted soft fruit trees, black and red currants, gooseberries and raspberries. They are new, young trees and this years produced only a small amount of fruit. They are growing tall and strong, but alas are producing only foliage, not fruit. I know that I need to take drastic action; cut back all that excess greenery to enable the plant’s energy to be directed into the production of fruit rather than foliage. If I continue to leave these little trees to their own devices they will continue to produce decorative leaves but no nourishing fruit. How like us they are. Without God in charge we are likely to produce only decorative greenery but little of substance with which to nourish others. We need God to prune whatever is only decorative from our lives in order for us to produce fruits of the spirit with which to sustain one another spiritually.

 If I tend my little fruit trees well, water them, fasten them to strong stakes to prevent them being bent by gales, cover them with fleece in the winter as protection against the cold, and clip back those branches which are not fruitful they will bear fruit year on year into their maturity. As can we, if we allow ourselves to be watered, protected and pruned by God.

 Whatever age we are, whatever stage we are at, whether we are young Christians or of mature age we are still able to bear fruit. As we age God doesn’t see old wood fit only for the bonfire. He sees an elderly branch still capable of bearing fruits of the spirit. We can be fruitful right up to the very last. God, in his wisdom, will only call us to eternal rest when our work for him is accomplished and we have added all the fruit he requires to his harvest. Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” Proverbs 11:30

Up-rooting and re-planting

Hebrews 12:15: Let no-one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many

troubles with its poison.

Gardening involves decisions. Sometimes ruthless one. There are plants which I have to uproot and discards, as they have grown wild, thorny, and threaten to choke or block the light  the smaller plant.

I have replanted seedlings and mature plants, moving them to a part of the garden where they will take root, and flourish, and add to the composition of that part of the garden.

 Four  years ago  we were uprooted. Two years into retirement and our lives were much the same as they had been for years, minus the paid work. We talked idly about moving from the crowded South East of England, to somewhere quieter, gentler, with less traffic. My husband, a Welshman, harboured a hankering to return to his roots. I was unsure, yet I felt that God had some plan up his sleeve for our retirement years.

The decision to uproot and replant ourselves in a small community in mid Wales was sudden, dramatic. Once the decision was made we quickly found a house we love. Our old family home` in suburbia sold within a fortnight. I say we uprooted ourselves, but in reality, God dug us up and replanted us here. Our roots are growing daily, driving deeper into the soil of the community. We have been welcomed into a small but loving Church family.

In recent weeks the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to a halt the social activities we usually enjoy. We have, however , experienced a real sense of community as people work together, shopping, visiting, encouraging and keeping in touch via phone and various video platforms. Our weekly Zoom  church service brings together our regular congregation, plus others who for whatever reason would not attend Church. Encouragement indeed, and cause for praise that we are rooted here for the duration.

I will call

                                                                            

As I walked, I prayed.  This particular morning the subject  under discussion was my daughter. She had recently returned from six months travelling abroad,  was restless, needed to resume her career yet   dreaded returning to her old life in London.  I wished desperately that she could commit .her life to Jesus, experience the peace of mind that comes from knowing him, the surety of knowing that he God  in control, that he alone knows the plans laid down for us, to trust the promise in Jeremiah 29:11

“ ‘For I Know The Plans I Have For You‘ Declares the Lord, ‘Plans to Prosper You and Not to Harm YouPlans to Give You Hope and a Future’ “

“Sit down,”  commanded the voice in my head. Obediently I sank onto the grassy bank of the river.  Rufus, my collie cross dog, adores the taste of succulent  grass, the type that grows best by water. I watched as he wandered along the bank, ready to call him to my side if he ventured too near the edge, mindful of the steep drop into the fast flowing current below.

“So it is with me,”  the voice within assured me.  “You love Rufus. You want him to experience life, you allow him to venture to the edge so that he can taste the grass. Yet you are ever watchful. If he strays dangerously close you will call his name and he will respond and return to you. So it is with me and my lambs . I allow them to stray, to taste the world. But I will not allow them to fall into the swirling eddies. When they are dangerously near the edge, I call, and they hear my voice and return to me.  Don’t worry. She is your daughter, but she is my daughter too.  I am watching over her, and I will call.”

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