We’re going to take a John 9 break today to talk about…John 15. But only like, a couple verses okay? I’m not trying to confuse you about the different Johnial chapters we’re talking about!
Anyway, my morning reading was in John 15 this morning and…oh. Man. Again, we’re talking about a passage of Scripture I’ve heard a billion times but today, in The Passion Translation, it came home to live in my heart.
“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest.“
-John 15:1-2, TPT
So as I see it here, there are three different things that can take place when God sets about working on the vine that is His Son. (By the way, thanks to my pastor, Steven Furtick, I love some good alliteration in an illustration. Just a heads up.). The three different things that can take place are:
Stay with me.
John clearly states that Jesus plainly said that any fruitless branch attached to Him would be propped up by the father. In other versions, this is translated: “he takes away”. The footnotes of your Bible can go a long way in helping you understand this vocabulary. The Passion Translation explains that God brings these branches off the ground and to Himself in order to enhance their growth. This is propping. To be honest, I have two Bibles with me today and the footnotes in the other one takes this verse in a VERY different direction suggesting instead that God rends these branches from the vine and throws them away disgusted. I believe at the end of time, this is how fruitless branches will be treated. But for now, my God is not in the habit of giving up on fruitless branches. I believe He props them up so they are closer to Him and can learn what they need to survive the lean years.
Pruning is exactly what you think it is…pruning. “To cleanse of filth; remove; reduce; trim; cut away”, these are all words used to describe pruning. But understanding pruning isn’t the important aspect of this verse. The important part is understanding the timing of pruning! The Bible says that pruning comes once a branch proves fruitful.
When you are hurt and injured in your life, don’t you find it quite easy to convince yourself that it is because you are bad? You’ve messed up and hurt your own cause and now God is punishing you. If you’ve ever thought that (I’ll be honest and admit that I have), then I’m about to give you some wonderfully terrible news. Pain comes from pruning…and pruning comes to branches bearing fruit. If you are in the throws of growing pain, it is because you are fruitful. It is because you have proven yourself faithful enough for God to know it is time to prune you. Oh hallelujah! And also no!!! I don’t want my fruitful faithfulness to produce pain in me. But it does. In pruning there is pain, and loss, and sterilization. Oh my friends…there is also intimacy, and promise, and infinite growth. Knowing that truth supplies relief in the hard times. It makes me able to pray:
Prune me Father,
Till I’m sore, sad, and sterile.
Till I’m with You, believing You, and full of You.
As I looked up definitions for pruning, I found an interesting twist thrown in there. The word “prune” can also be defined as “an unpleasant or disagreeable person” (Wait for it…). And isn’t that what we become when we are being pruned (OH SHE WENT THERE!). When we don’t spend time in God’s word, we miss things like John 15:2, and when we miss things like John 15:2 we go through the hard times and think we’re being punished when we’re being pruned and we end up being prunes. We are just slowly prune-ing away inside our own pains and never realizing that we are actually missing out on the chance to grow into EXACTLY what God wants and has for us.
If you’re feeling fruitless and propped up right now, lean in. It is not yet too late to turn that around. If you’re feeling pruned and cut right now, quiet down. It is simply the pain of creating new life through you. And if you’re feeling like a prune…get over it. Better to be propped or pruned than live your life pouting and miss out on a chance to do anything at all. Whatever season you might be in…
Let it be.