"I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and ever branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit." - John 15:1-2 (NKJV)
This verse, one of the ones used for the sermon yesterday, got me to thinking about pruning in our lives - or rather, having our lives pruned.
There are plenty of descriptions, in books and on the InterWeb, about the practice and nature and reasons behind the pruning of grapevines (outside of sheep and field practices of the early 1st century, it may be the best well known point of agriculture of the Bible) - in short, it increases yield by removing all but the most necessary parts of the vines. A good vinedresser can do this quickly and effortlessly, an inexperienced one less so and with greater potential harm to the plan.
The word "pruning" struck me for some reason as it was mentioned this morning - perhaps because as I look over the few years, I see the effects of God's pruning in my own life but not the results (or at least, I do not think I do).
The pruning of my own life started in earnest nine years ago, when (by a layoff) we moved halfway across the country to start a new life in a new city and state with (literally) no-one we knew within a three state radius. All the projects and plans and even activities I had were completely removed from the agenda - and over time, some of those things began to wither and fade simply because of a lack of proximity.
Did other things and people come in to fill those gaps? Absolutely, with some of the best activities I could have imagined (and opportunities I would not have had before). And yet even now, I begin to sense another season of pruning is upon me.
In terms of my religious life with God? Strangely enough, I feel like the last 9 years have moved me farther from God, not closer. That is bothersome as I have little idea what or how to fix the situation. I am not sure where it is stemming from - it is not as if we have attended service regularly for the last 9 years or that I feel the preaching I have had was terrible. There is just less of a sense that I can do something meaningful within God's Kingdom.
But perhaps this, too, shall pass. Perhaps I am simply at the end of that process well, and need only keep my eyes fixed on the vine to see that result as well. After all, in every (literally every) other arenas our lives have become significantly better since the move (except for proximity of family, of course). I cannot believe God would allow the rest of that to improve without the most important part of that, my relationship with Him.