“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ~ John 15: 1-8
The past 10 months or so, I have really struggled. It had been a fight and a push spiritually. It was a painful time, but in the pain at least I knew I was still alive. Then, during all of this quarantine stuff, came a whole lot of nothing. I have not had any fear or anxiety during this time and I am very thankful. But it seemed that when I came before God, as I do every morning, I came empty. What happened to the tears? What happened to the fervency? I got to the point ,as I continued to get on my knees, where I just prayed, “Lord, I feel like all I am, coming before you. is a dead twig. Where’s the life?”
That night around the fire, Adam was talking with Isaac about the above scripture. He asked Isaac, “When do I prune the fruit trees?” Isaac answered, “When the tree is dormant.” Now before that point, I wasn’t paying any attention. Not listening is a pretty common habit in my life, especially by a fire. But something in that statement jumped out at me. Remember, I was feeling like a dead twig. I really was identifying with that dormant fruit tree Adam was talking about. It hit home that I am in a pruning process.
We know about God’s pruning. It is a very common talked about thing and expected in the Christian life. It isn’t just a one time deal and we can expect it to come regularly. But what struck me different, as the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through Adam, was how merciful God’s way of pruning is when you really think about it. He doesn’t prune while we’re in the middle of life, bearing all kinds of fruit. He prunes us in the dormant season, when everything seems inactive and lifeless. How painful and volatile it would be if He did it when we were a tree full of fruit! Thankfully, He doesn’t do that. He does it when it seems nothing is happening.
I find this greatly comforting for a few reasons. One, even though things feel lifeless, He is still living and completing His good work in me. This is a promise He gives in other scripture. Two, He prunes in the areas that He expects fruit to come out of. Three, I am given this quiet time as He does His work. I can accept the quiet and remain in peace that He is with me. Even if peace is all I have at the moment, it’s all I need for the time being. He hasn’t left me nor abandoned me.
I hope this resonates with those of you who may feel like nothing is happening spiritually especially as we are not together physically as a body. Be comforted that He is not surprised by any of this, and He is orchestrating all of this according to His plans and purpose for us and this world.
“God doesn’t have problems, He only has plans.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom.