Seasons are important, not just for our climate, but for our lives as well. There are weather seasons, seasons in the church, and seasons of life. As we reflect on our spiritual lives the gospel of John contains a lot of helpful imagery on the seasons we face as we journey with Jesus Christ. The imagery of the vine is most helpful as we think about the seasons of our faith journey. I am not a gardener, nor do I pretend to understand things related to gardening. That said, looking at the vine, there are five seasons that stick out to me; growth, fruit bearing, dormancy, death, and pruning. We have an apple tree in our backyard. When we bought our house, I encouraged my wife to try and get fruit out of it. She worked very hard to take care of it and now for the last four years we have enjoyed apples. This past year was the biggest crop of all. While the conditions the tree has endured have fluctuated, there is one thing that my wife has done that has caused the increase in fruit, pruning the tree. Each year she trims dead branches along with those that are too dense or heavy with fruit to be productive. That’s what pruning is all about. Its about removing those things that are dead or causing death as well as those things that are an over abundance.
Right now I am experiencing a season of pruning. That’s not to say that pruning is not without pain or grief. Pruning is easy for the pruner, but not necessarily the one being pruned. Its not hard for God to lead us in this season just as its not difficult for Jessica to cut down branches. Yet, I bet the apple tree probably does not enjoy the pruning. I know that while God is doing amazing things in this season, its not easy nor is it comfortable. Pruning is a necessary gift. It leads to greater growth and life. Most importantly its result is fruit in abundance.
The best book on pruning that I have ever read is Cloud’s book called Necessary Endings. It is a great, must-read book for anyone who is facing a season of pruning, but also for those who want to be thoughtful, reflective Christ-followers who want to embrace every season that God brings about in their lives.