Driving back from dropping the team off at Cape Town airport I was thanking God for such a beautiful sunny day after so much rain. I was also recalling the chill in the air a few days earlier at vineyard and how the time spent there seemed way too short. As I was nearing the exit to the vineyard I sensed an inner call to go back and dwell some more.
Beginning my climb up a slope to the steeper part of the vineyard I noticed several crews out pruning the rows of vines. The sound of the shears was rhythmic as the team looped off branch after branch. Before you knew it several branches had been cut and discarded to the ground. The whole process seemed like my last haircut where the barber kept buzzing away until I had only a few hairs left.
When the pruners had cut off most of the branches-leaving just two or three good canes attached to the vine-they moved on and repeated the same process. Without this winter pruning the grapes would be tiny and the harvest would become unproductive. This tedious work of the farmer is vital for the success of his vineyard.
As I watched these skilled workers cut away at the branches the text of John 15:1-2 took on living color:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more fruit.”
As I kept walking up the steep hill to get a better view of the vineyard I asked the Father, “what are you pruning in my life? What are you cutting away so that I can bear much fruit to bring you glory?” My list was long but at the core of it was self. Self must die daily in order to live in the rich sap of Jesus the vine. If I try to branch out on my own and not live daily in dependence on Jesus my branch will wither and die.
Daily, yes daily I must let the Father cut away anything that does not keep me dependent on Him. What is the shears that He uses to do this? His Word!
“You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you.” (vs. 3)
I love how the author of Hebrews describes Jesus the Word:
“For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are…” (4:12).
For me daily being in His Word reveals to me my absolute need to constantly abide in the finished work of Jesus Christ for me. Apart from Christ I am nothing!
Maybe the best prayer we can pray is “Father please cut that I may abide fully in your Son Jesus!”