Links Daily Devotional

Pruning

“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)

Since I started playing golf 30 years ago I have had the privilege to play out of the same great course, Atlanta Country Club. Other than leading our Links Fellowship there, I do not get too involved in other aspects of the club, but a few years ago I started to notice something that I thought needed to be addressed. So as I would play from time to time with members of the Board of Directors or the Greens Committee, I would mention to them how I thought a lot of our trees were getting overgrown and affecting some of the original intent of the design of the course (OK, honestly they were just getting in my way!). But when I would say that we needed to get rid of this tree or cut off that limb, they would look at me with contempt, as if I was preaching blasphemy and hate against our big, beautiful trees.

Though there was never a hint that my comments were being heard, eventually our much-esteemed superintendent was allowed to purchase a bucket truck and started cutting back our trees and pruning limbs. Guess what? Not only does the course more closely match its original characteristics, but it looks more beautiful than ever. The fairways get more sun and have grown in more lushly than I can ever remember. Unfortunately, I hit just as many trees.

Interestingly, I am learning that overgrowth is not uncommon for mature golf courses, because there are always members who oppose the pruning of the big, beautiful trees.

So, where do you fall in your acceptance of pruning? No, not of the golf course you play. Rather, I am talking about in your life.

Let me ask you, “What are you asking God to remove or get rid of in your life?” Your answer may be, “Nothing.” Many of us are happy with the way things are. (Of course, it’s not uncommon to ask God to lop off a few of the pains in your life—but he may actually be leaving those for a reason!)

Unlike what most of us pray for, God usually prunes rather than sprinkling Miracle-Gro on things. He prunes us so that we, like vines, bushes, and trees, will be even more fruitful than before. Three things happen to a pruned plant before it becomes more fruitful: 1) it becomes more dependent on the tree or vine, 2) it experiences growth in new areas, and 3) it reaches a potential that was previously impossible. That’s three good things!

What is so neat about our gardener is that when we see struggle, pain, and ugliness, he sees dependence, growth, and potential that is only possible through the process of pruning. Since our gardener he cares so much for what we will become, he prunes us (often by taking us through stormy times). My hope for you in times of struggle is that you would “remain in the vine” (John 15:4), drawing near to Jesus, trusting that he not only is aware of our circumstances, but that he is doing something with it that will eventually bear even more fruit.

God intends for us not just to get through these times of pruning but to get something out of them. That something is growth. Embrace the preparation for fruitfulness that God is doing in your life.

Josh Nelson
April 28, 2015
Copyright 2015 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.