Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When Cutting Means Living

“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

We have fruit trees here at our new house.  Several of them.  Spring came and whispered to waken them, but still they sleep.  A few blossoms roused, but mostly, they remained covered in lichen and  tangled in hungry vines.  I had held out hope that perhaps, because of their age, they'd surprise us with a bumper crop. 

But when the blossoms were few, I knew the truth.  There wouldn't be any fruit.

There were dead limbs.  Lots of them.  Some more obvious than others.  Some with crunchy grey-green lichen growing on their rotting flesh.  Others with honeysuckle and poison ivy vines choking them in their effort to grow heavenward.  And when he said they'd all have to come down, I argued with my husband--surely some of them were alive?  But even to knock knuckles against them revealed what I didn't want to accept.  The sound was hollow.  Lifeless.

And I can't help but think that perhaps when others see me, they see dead limbs too.

Limbs that no longer bear fruit.  Limbs no longer drinking from the vine.  Limbs that offer no fragrant flowers, no lush leaves, no fruit.

I stood, that day he said they'd need to come down, determined to keep them, determined to leave them be and let them have a chance.  I stood between those trees and my husband, the tree-gardener in our family.

And I can't help but think that perhaps I stand between myself and the true Gardener.

I wonder about this Gardener that severs branches and limbs, takes the lifeless to give life in the future.  I wonder about His ways.  His economy.  His methods. Taking the life of lambs and pigeons to free heart-life of repentant people so long ago. Taking the life of His Son to give life to mankind.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24

Seeds that die and produce many.
Joseph severed from his family and he saves nations, the entire Hebrew race.

Could it actually be that had Joseph remained in the comfort of his father's favor, he would not have born fruit?  Could it be that my clinging to languishing limbs is preventing me from producing fruit?

And what of me and my dead limbs?  What of the limbs that no longer bear fruit?  Do I really want to see them?  Do I really want to know what they are?  Would I really let that Gardener come in with his saw and make the cuts?

Come to me, ye who are weary . . .

Holding lifeless limbs can become wearisome.

ye who are heavy laden . . .

Lifting dead weight can drain a soul.

and I will give you rest . . .

The rest comes in the releasing.

Sometimes the releasing comes in stepping down as the guard of lichen covered limbs.
Sometimes the releasing means letting Him make the cuts.
Sometimes the releasing is goodbye to our plans.  Our ambitions.  Our ideas.  Our pride.
And I have much of that.  Pride.

And sometimes the cutting off leaves a gaping hole for a season. 

Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Maybe I have some holes right now.  Some that are gaping.  I'm waiting for the joy that comes in the morning.  For that sweet sun to rise and whisper the Gardener's song, the song of making all things new, the song of healing, the song of hope, the song that promises fruit.

Fruit that will last.