EARTH: Pruning Brings Growth by Francine Rivers

Reflections on How God Speaks Through Nature

Pruning Brings Growth by Francine Rivers

From: Earth Psalms

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mind that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
(John 15:1-4)

In late winter, on a drive through Sonoma County, I’ll see farmworkers pruning fruit trees. A few farms haven’t given out to vineyard and still grow apples, peaches, cherries, apricots, and plums. In winter the view is bleak; we’ll see orchards or barren-looking trees and piles of cuttings ready to burn. But why prune at all?

Pruning cuts away diseased and storm-damaged branches.  It also removes obstructing branches that might otherwise break off and wound the trunk, exposing the interior of the tree to insect invasion.  Pruning thins the tree’s crown and branches, permitting more air to circulate and light to penetrate.  Air and light are essential to flower production – and without flowers, there is no fruit.  Pruning strengthens the tree for fruit production and shapes it into something of beauty.

We need pruning, too, and not just once a year.  What does God use to prune us?  Scripture; life experiences, both good and bad; the natural world; others’ words.  We learn through hardship.  We learn through pain.  Everything becomes a tool in God’s hands.

But I have a part in the process, too.  God calls me to examine my life, to search for what needs to be cut away.  Do I listen to the raucous shouting world instead of the still small voice of God?  Cut away that part of me that desires the world’s approval.  Has pride crept in like a disease?  Cut away that self-righteousness.  What useless, time-consuming, needless things need to be cut away so I have the time I crave to lean in and listen to the Holy Spirit moving within my heart, instructing while I read God’s Word, lighting my path through this fallen, darkened world?  Whatever obstructs my relationship with God must be cut off and tossed on the burn pile.

Pruning brings new life.

I want to be strong in faith, like a tree firmly planted by streams of living water.  I want to yield fruit in season – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – because these are the things that make others hunger for the One who fills the soul.


Why is pruning so uncomfortable?  How can it help us become more fruitful?  What is God’s role in the process and what is ours?  What new life can emerge after pruning?


Take some quiet time this week to search your heart.  What areas of your life need pruning?  What attitudes or thoughts need to be cut off so that you can become more fruitful?


Father God, you are the master gardener.  You know how to prune me so that I will become more fruitful, more beautiful, more like you.  The pruning is often painful, and I wish it weren’t necessary.  But please help me to remember that no matter how much it hurts in the moment, the end result will be more fruit – and a life that is an offering to you.

I used to wander off until you disciplined me;
but now I closely follow your word.
(Psalm 119:67)

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