Cutting back (15-04-21)
‘ 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 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.’ (John 15: 1-4)
We have a friend who maintains the garden at Coton Manor. Whenever casually seeking professional advice regarding maintenance of our flower beds/borders, Judith is always left feeling that our friend has a brutal approach to plant care. ‘Cut right back and give it a stern lecture’ is the mantra.
Last Sunday we braved the cold to visit the newly re-opened gardens at Coton Manor. Last summer the borders stood knee high with abundant foliage and flowers. This week we were impressed in a different way. Not a weed in sight, but hardly a single plant or bush standing higher than a few inches of bare stem. Our friend indeed practices what they preach.
We have no doubt that the summer borders will become as colourful as last year, but were taken aback at the extent to which cutting back is part of this process.
Our spiritual health similarly needs annual maintenance.
The warm weather beckons us into additional pursuits outdoors. Cycling, golf, and walks rejuvenate friendships that have been curtailed by the cold weather. Holidays take us to new and fascinating places where we can wonder in the beauty of nature and the achievements of our ancestors.
But these additional activities can also cut into our time spent in relationship with Jesus and the community of believers. We may need to miss our familiar group discussions, may be uncertain when church services are taking place in our holiday destination, or may become used to a more ego-centric daily pattern.
Different environments can detract our focus away from our Christian calling. We need to make sure that we view our new activities within an appropriate perspective, so that they do not persist to rot our relationship with God.
An annual self-appraisal of any pruning requirements in our spiritual life is much better than allowing our relationship with God to rot.
Dear Lord, help me to abide in you and to be fruitful in all that I say and do.
Without you I can do nothing, but in you I can bring forth the fruit that others will enjoy.