I saw the most gorgeous tree the other day at my kids’ school. She stopped me in my tracks with her huge blooms that were fuchsia on the outside and blush pink on the inside. Just a few weeks ago, this very tree was naked, seemingly dead and dry. Now, she sang of new life and was flourishing.
We are in the throes of transition from winter to spring in Central California where I live. That means some of the trees are stark and barren, while others are bursting with colorful blooms like the one I saw on the school campus. This also signals the time when fruit trees, roses, and vines must be pruned.
One of my dear friends lives on a property in a town about thirty minutes from my house. She and her husband have 2.5 acres with an extensive organic garden and a small grove of fruit trees, including peaches, nectarines, and plums.
Mary taught me a little about pruning. When she and her husband prune their fruit trees, they have three goals:
1) cut back all the branches to instigate growth,
2) trim excess smaller branches that steal nutrients from the main branches,
3) cut the lower branches to train the tree to grow upward and outward.
When Mary explained this about pruning, I couldn’t help but think about one of my favorite passages in Scripture when Jesus talks about the concept of pruning. He 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.
John 15:1-2 (NIV)
These verses do not say to cut back just the dead and sinful branches. Jesus says every branch must be pruned for the purpose of greater growth. If we apply the same principles of pruning to our own lives, it means we have to consider cutting back all our branches or commitments.
In our culture, it’s so easy to say yes to too many activities, too many good things, too much busyness. The hardest part for me is choosing what to cut back. I have to open my hands before the Master Gardener and ask Him if there is anything that needs to be removed, trimmed, or shaped in each new season.
After my husband’s death in 2014, I felt like God was asking me to step back from working with the non-profit organization we had started in Haiti. This was a difficult decision for me because I had been serving there for many years with my late husband. I had nurtured deep friendships and felt a strong sense of identity within that ministry.
God asked me to lay down my pride and empower others to step into leadership of the organization. This required courage and vulnerability, but I knew it was the right decision. I needed to make space for grief and be present for my three daughters in their grief journey.
In other seasons, Jesus has prompted me to step away from leadership roles or commitments that were taking too much time. He wanted me to choose margin and rest. This past fall, my daughters were starting at a new school. Our family started attending a new church. It was also a busy time for my new husband in his job. As much as I was eager to jump into new opportunities, God asked me to prune back my involvement in volunteering at church and attending Bible study.
I needed space and silence to listen to where God might be leading me in this new season. This also afforded me more quality time with my family to help them through their transitions.
Every new season is an invitation to reevaluate and prune our lives for greater growth. And in a pruning season, it is critical to abide in Jesus.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5 (ESV)
That word abide means “to dwell or remain.” In this verse, Jesus invites us to sit down and spend time with Him so He can root us. He reminds us that apart from Him we can do nothing. We have to hand over the pruning shears and our control to Jesus.
Pruning is often painful. Jesus understands pain and suffering, and that’s why He’s the perfect person to walk with us through that process.
Pruning can also bring grief. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to grieve what we are stepping away from or losing. Christ offers comfort and peace when we lean into Him.
Pruning requires courage. It’s hard to say no to good things. It’s difficult to step away from groups and commitments that have been meaningful in a certain season of our lives. It’s a challenge to pivot away from something that was our passion or made us feel successful. Jesus serves up strength and provides confidence when we dwell with Him.
Friend, let me encourage you to embrace the pruning today. Let’s trust the Master Gardener who cares deeply about each one of us and also sees the big picture of His garden.
What do you need to prune in this present season
to make room for Jesus and new growth?
*Dorina has written more about pruning and how God has designed each of us to flourish in her Bible study, Flourishing Together: Cultivating a Fruitful Life in Christ. Details here.
Every new season is an invitation to reevaluate and prune our lives for greater growth. - @DorinaGilmore: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Beth Williams says
This is a timely post as we approach Easter. Lysa Terkeurst in her book The Best Yes states that “Saying Yes to everything & everyone won’t make you wonder woman. It will make you a worn out woman.” Worn out women have nothing to give God, family, friends or church. We all need spiritual whitespace in our lives. Some type of margin to just be still & know that He is God. Time to abide with Jesus. Pruning is painful but Jesus truly understands pain. Lysa also explains in her book It’s Not Supposed to be This Way that Jesus was offered relief for the pain He was to endure on the cross. He chose not to take it. He wanted to feel ALL the pain & agony. In that way He can empathize with us in our pains. Each of us has varying seasons in our lives. We need to take time to embrace them & acknowledge what is necessary for that time. I had a season of giving up working. It was time to care for my aging dad. I grew spiritually & emotionally during that time. The pruning was worth it. Now when trials come I am ready.
I read that “Saying Yes” book years ago and it made a huge impact on me. Thanks for sharing these reminders!
Michele Morin says
Like Beth, I will also share a book I’m reading that applies to this pruning process–Michelle DeRusha described open center pruning, a process that yields, over time, a tree with uniquely healthy and beautiful form, but honestly the images I saw online of this branch-by-branch process looked hideous.
In my own experience, relinquishment becomes a metaphor for the stripping away that happens on the way to growth, and it has meant letting go of some things that looked really good to me and trusting that God knew what he was doing with those pruning shears He was wielding.
I need to find that book by Michelle. Relinquishment of things we love can be the hardest! We have to trust Him!
Dawn Ferguson-Littlie says
Sometimes purning is good sometimes it not nice for us to go through it. But we all at times have to go through it. No matter who we are. Purne out the weeds sometimes in our lives. That should not be there. God maybe speaking and saying. Beautiful Women I want to be the Gardner in your life. Purne it take away all thoes weeds the Devil has put there. Especially all the lies he has told you. That you think will never get over. Or that you can’t come to God with. Gods words says in Matthew 11 verse 28 Come to Me all You who Labour and are heavy Laden and I will give You Rest. See God says come to him when you are heavy laden and tired you women with all your problems with. He will help you prune the weeds out of them. Help you water them into a beautiful Garden with beautiful trees and flowers. In your heart. Than the Old Devil can’t throw his weeds in and Choke you with bad thoughts. That I will never get over this or this problem or this grief. Yes you will and you will smile again. Because we have big big might God. Who loves us all. Who will help you pluck out all thoes weeds in your life. Water the beautiful Garden in your life. Which is your Heart. Love Dawn xxx
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Yes! We definitely need to prune the weeds and lies from the Enemy. We also need to cut back all the branches according to John 15. Thank you for resonating with me here!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
That tree is a pink magnolia and mine is just starting to burst open with blossoms, but I did have to do some pruning (which it probably didn’t like) in order for it to be fully beautiful in God’s time. Pruning hurts and when God asks me to cut out some activities in my life, my immediate reaction is to say, “But. God, I’m doing this for You.” To which, I think He would reply, “If you try to do it all you are robbing my other children from finding their spot in serving me.” So much for the myth that Do More = Better. I love the word abide. I believe if I could audibly hear God’s voice He would be telling me, “Let go of always doing and just BE, ABIDE here in my presence and wait with anticipation for what I will perform through you.” This year, I truly feel God calling me to abide more and do less. Abide = Better. Thank you for this reminder that God know what He is doing in the pruning process…I can trust the Master Gardner!
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Bev, I adore the magnolias! So full and vibrant in color. Yes, God has often showed me that when I prune and step away from something He has the opportunity to raise up a new leader in my place. This is what Flourishing Together is all about!
Tara Archibald says
Love this. It fits right in with my own studies for lent and my word for the year. I’m reading Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ and Bonnie Gray’s Whispers of Rest. My word is abide. Murray is going through this passage in John 15 to talk about true abiding in Christ. I struggle with surrendering all of me, of truly trusting in Him. Bonnie’s book is teaching me to daily rest, to daily surrender, to daily trust, to abide in the One who is truly worthy of it. Thank you! Thoroughly enjoyed reading your beautiful words!
I love both those books! I’ve been on a similar journey – learning to abide and create rhythms of rest.
Susan Shipe says
Dorina, God always has a way of confirming His Word in two or three witnesses! I just wrote on Pruning this past week on my blog!
I love when He does that for us!
Rebecca Jones says
Nice to know how He prunes, I have been studying that.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
This concept keeps circling back around for me each year at different times.
Becky Keife says
Submitting to God’s pruning requires courage. Yes! Courage to trust Him. Courage to imagine the growth and fruitfulness that waits for but that we cannot yet see. Such good reminders, friend. Thank you. I’m excited to see what fruit God grows in you after this current season of pruning. xx
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
Thank you for resonating, friend. Let’s link arms and en-courage each other to prune and imagine what He might bring in the harvest!