Jesus proclaims: “I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-6).
I have had a close look at trees, branches, and bramble this summer. Gary taught me how to use the Sawzall.
He told me to only take off the dead branches and not uproot a tree unless it was dead all the way to the top. I am very literal and thought I was doing quite a fine job clearing away dead branches as far as I could reach. This part of the forest was a bit scary to me, since there were so many shadows amidst the cluttered trees. I made my way through about three rows of trees, thinking I was effectively pruning.
At the end of one day, Gary came by and started pruning deeper in the forest. I asked him, “Why are you pruning the green part of the branches?” He explained that the branches were diseased; the green part was mildew, which was actually killing the branches. These branches were in the shadows and could not get direct sunlight. Thus, I went back to my starting place and trimmed another nine trees into the forest. Gary and I discovered a beautiful meadow twelve trees back into the forest. After the dead and diseased branches were gone, it was no longer scary to work in that part of the forest. A bonus is that the cleared brush will help to prevent fire danger.
Former construction workers told us there was a bobcat that watched them work. I saw a black bear last summer, and recently, Washington let wolves loose. Consequently, I have been quite cautious in the woods. Before the clutter was gone, each log appeared to be a potential lurking animal. Afterwards, however, it was easy to distinguish the surroundings. I felt like I was learning a vivid lesson in abiding in the vine, pruning the dead or diseased branches, and gathering the bramble for burning. The thriving trees have direct sunlight. I likened that to our direct relationship with Jesus. Conversely, when we are not abiding in Him, we can, like the branches, appear green, though there is mold at work. Sometimes it takes an honest friend, or a safe place like Celebrate Recovery to deal with old hurts, hang-ups and habits. If we don’t get healed of the past, we tend to pass it on to the next generation. Let’s get free of our “mold” and stay connected to Jesus. Purpose to be in fellowship with believers, daily read and apply God’s Word, and get rid of any hinderances which could thwart healthy growth. Stay in the light and thrive!