Under the clear blue Iowa sky we lingered around the umbrella-topped table sipping our wine. The culmination of 36 hours of laughing, crying, talking and eating, no one rushed to conclude our annual girls trip. As we lounged on the winery’s patio, we watched her work. In the hot sun she stood in the vineyard tending an unruly vine. Pulled from its trellis, she painstakingly trimmed away, pruning branch after branch. When we finally pushed our chairs back from the table to leave I couldn’t help it, I had to go ask what she was doing and why. Greeting us with a smile, she gladly started answering our questions and sharing her expertise and knowledge with us, her eager students. Wiping the sweat from her brow she talked about how these particular vines were damaged because of early growth and then frost. She talked about how they were back to looking like one year old vines instead of 2 year olds. Sharing her plan for their future, she talked about training the two main shoots and how far apart the nodes should be and the shape you want the vine to grow into and where the fruit will eventually appear. She pointed out the little tendrils that wind their wiry ways around anything and everything in their path.
She had a plan for the vineyard and each individual plant. She prepared and planned for growth and patiently pruned all with a quiet confidence that one day the vines would look the way they were supposed to and yield a beautiful, bountiful, prosperous crop. She showed us other varietals in the vineyard that were pruned, trimmed, trained and producing sweet grapes. She encouraged us to taste the fruit and enjoy its perfection. This lovely young vinedresser, with passion, sincerity and honesty, gave us a glimpse into her work. And as she talked, I couldn’t help but reflect on the Master Gardener. My eyes teared up as I listened to her. I quickly put my sunglasses on and hoped that a salty tear wouldn’t escape and roll down my cheek. How would I explain it–crying over vines?
The whole time she shared, I couldn’t help but think of the words of Jesus in John 15:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine 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.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
As she spoke, I thought of God’s patient training and pruning of me. I thought of his plan for my growth and fruit. I wondered if I was on His schedule for growth or if frost or drought or weeds or clingy tendrils had delayed my maturity.
It’s easy at times to resent His pruning in my life. An unruly branch, my tendrils reach out and cling to every distraction and He patiently, deliberately, and oh-so-lovingly redirects my path so that the fruit He desires will be ready when the harvest comes.
As I watched and listened to my gifted young friend, I felt a peace and calm about trusting my life to the Patient Master Gardener and His wise pruning.
You know He has a master plan for you as well.
Where do you most feel His pruning in your life?