The Painful Road to Greater Results
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When it comes to growing things, I'm not exactly Seedling Sam the Gardening Man. I grew up in an apartment in the city, OK? But my farm girl wife and some friends who have amazing green thumbs have taught me a lot about how things grow and flourish. I was reminded of one of those lessons when I read an article about growing blueberries. The writer of the article is a recognized expert on blueberries. He explained how one of his most important steps in making blueberry bushes fruitful is to chop off branches. That sounds destructive, but it's actually constructive. He prunes away a lot of top branches so the interior branches are exposed to the sunlight. The result? Big blueberries and lots of them!
I need to understand this pruning thing. It's one of God's most important tools in growing me - and you, for that matter. In fact, some of the difficulty and loss that you're experiencing right now may actually be your Heavenly Father cutting you back to help you grow. And the results are going to be far greater than they ever could have been if He left what He has been taking away.
As Jesus was in His final hours before the cross, He prepared His disciples for the battles and the assignments ahead of them with some powerful teaching. And since they saw grapevines often, He chose that as an analogy of their, and our, relationship with Him. In John 15, beginning with verse 1, our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus says: "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." In short, leaving you less so you can do more.
Jesus went on to explain that all the things we do for Him have to flow from our deep relationship with Him, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing...If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you." If you keep loading up on Jesus and getting ever closer to Him, it's going to be really fruitful. You're going to make a greater and greater difference with the rest of your life than you've ever made before. You're going to be more and more spiritually magnetic and having you around is going to be more and more like having Jesus around.
But before the fruit, comes the pruning. I imagine if a vine could talk, he'd say to the pruner, "You're killing me, man!" And the gardener would say, "I know it hurts, but I'm actually removing things you don't really need so you can explode with greater fruit." That may be exactly what's happening in your life right now. It doesn't feel good, but it is good. God is lovingly removing things you think you need, but things that may be holding you down, holding you back, or holding you captive. The cutbacks are painful, but your Lord is taking out and subtracting so He can shine on what's left and do what He could have never done if you still had what you've lost.
Pruning is actually God's loving surgery to let His light go deeper into your life than it has ever gone before. You may not enjoy the process. You probably won't enjoy the process, but you and everybody else, is going to love the results!
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
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