"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."
Personal reflection: This is one of the ways I "make the connection" to Jesus and God the Father, in my life. My faith connection is most often 'rooted' in Creation and I can so relate with verses, such as these above. It makes sense. And, it really makes sense after taking a hands-on grape pruning workshop in February.
Grapes in Western Washington are popular to grow, but they do need some special care. The picture above is the rough pruning cut - removing all other branches, except for the best 4 options for this year's grape crop. Final winter pruning determines which 2 are the best choices for this year's production. As the main life force in the grape plant comes from its trunk (or vine), those branches that are healthy and closest to the source of life/its vitality will likely produce the most fruit. A branch is chosen and wrapped around the fruiting wire in each direction, secured, and the other branches are removed.
For best harvest, only 2 healthiest branches connected to the original vine remain!
And while the plants will put on a huge amount of growth (and have to be topped during the growing season), the fruiting only occurs at this knee high fruiting wire; needing to be close to the life source and while receiving radiant warmth from the living soil. Our temps in Western Washington are not warm enough for fruiting to occur farther away from this source.
Now, these plants grow quite large during the season and if one left on all the branches that grew - healthy and not-so-healthy - grape production would be greatly reduced in the following season with the possibility of no production size fruit in a season or so to follow... God's desire is for each of us to bear abundant fruit in our lives.
And yet, to wire these branches to the fruiting wire, we had to slightly bend the branches we were wrapping on the wire and each bend produced cracking in the branch "skin" (the branch was no longer smooth, but "roughed up" a little in the process). A reminder to me that this journey; this life isn't going to be easy. To bear fruit, our lives must handle the pruning God brings to our lives. We're not going to look fine china, but instead, we will have some bruising; even battle scars. Yet, we will bear more fruit, we will be fruitful, if we remain connected in the vine of Christ.
God never promised it would be an easy life - and many times I have wanted to give up - but God's Truth never fails me and His faithfulness never ends. His mercies are new every morning.... His love endures forever. And those, are solid reasons for me to remain connected to the vine of Christ, growing in His Truth - my life source for every day and a lifetime. I may look old and gnarly one day from all His pruning, but I pray my life bears fruit until He calls me home.