Winter is a Season of Pruning

crutchesContinued from here.

Jesus told us,

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 so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2).

In his book, In Season: Embracing the Father’s Process of Fruitfulness, Wayne Jacobsen says that pruning the grapevine takes place in the Winter. Because the vine is at rest during the Winter months, pruning causes the least amount of pain during this season. However, even during the time of rest, pruning is still painful – there’s no way for it not to be. Buds that the branch has been investing in are suddenly removed with a sharp cut. Pruning is loss, and our human nature is to fight anything being taken away from us, even when it’s for our own good.

I don’t like to be pruned. I only invest my time in things I care about, so there’s nothing to prune other than things that I love – things that I have invested my energy into over a period of time. Sometimes the pruning is activities – often fruitful activities, such as ministries. Other times, the pruning is relationships, which are doubly difficult for me to say goodbye to. When I invest in someone, I care deeply. The sting of the gardener’s knife severing the relationship hurts. My results-driven, Type A personality balks at seeing the pruned parts of myself lying lifeless on the ground after all of the energy I poured into those parts throughout the last season. I grieve the losses.

While I doubt I’ll ever enjoy the pruning process, Jacobsen has given me two important reasons to be grateful as I am pruned. The first is that pruning has a purpose: so I will become even more fruitful. Jacobsen explains that a vine can only support so much fruit. If it’s never pruned, the weight of the overabundance of fruit will break the branch. A branch can support a few bunches of grapes well, but if too many bunches grow, then the branch will be unable to support them. In other words, nobody benefits from us being spread too thin. The pruning season sharpens my focus so I can pour all of my energy into the one or two tasks that God wants me doing very well.

The other extremely important reason to be grateful for pruning is that bring me into close contact with the Gardener. To prune a branch, the Gardener must lean in closely. God is never closer to me than when He is pruning me. Winter is a season to draw closer to Him – to sense His presence in a way that is deeper and richer than in any other season.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace on crutches in a full body cast. Courtesy Bitmoji.]