You’ve most likely seen one or more of those makeover-style TV shows. Somebody’s house gets remodeled. Someone gets a beauty and wardrobe makeover. At the end of the show there is a “big reveal” when the house or the person is shown to be “shockingly better.” 

During the last hours of His life, Jesus had a lot to say to his disciples about God the Father, His work, and how things would be after His death and resurrection. Among the gems of information, instruction and encouragement is this passage:

John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

This past week, just before the Days of Unleavened Bread, I had to prune my rose bushes by the back deck. They were growing over the ramp and impeding the walking path. I hate to cut them back because it is always seem like just when they are looking their most beautiful – full of blooms – that they need cutting. I don’t cut because the bushes are dead or unproductive. I trim them because I need them to stay within the confines of the planned flowerbed I set up for them.

This time, my pruning revealed an empty bird’s nest. It made me think, “hmm, that was there all along and I didn’t even know it.” I assumed the bird had long since raised her brood and moved on. I was wrong. 

The next morning, I saw that there were two little eggs in the nest - baby blue with brown speckles. A third egg was in the nest the next morning. It was until the following day that I saw the mother – a brown bird with an orange beak. 

According to John 15, God, the Father, the vinedresser, prunes His children too. I’ve always thought of pruning as cutting away the bad, rotten, or dead. But that does not really seem to be what God is doing or what Jesus is expressing in John 15. Jesus says that the Father prunes those who are already bearing fruit. Just like my roses. God does it so that we can produce even more fruit – maybe fruit we didn’t even realize we had in us – like that bird’s nest. 

Just like my rose bush had only just begun to support the amazing life about to occur in that nest, we often don’t comprehend what God can really do in and through us, with the Holy Spirit He has given each of us. We limit Him when we want to just keep growing like we have always grown before – do our own comfortable, “same old thing.” He knows that there is something better, just waiting for the big reveal. 

So, it isn’t always just the dead that needs pruning. It is also sometimes the living that needs pruning too. God’s goal of revealing beauty, life and even greatness takes cutting away what might be just okay or even good in what we have done so far to make room for the work and growth that is yet to come.

I am reminded of a quote attributed to the sculpture and artist Michelangelo, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” 

The job of the Vinedresser, the pruner of men, is the same. He already knows the greatness that is possible in us. He simply cuts away the parts that don’t belong and reveals the beauty and delight that is there because of the Holy Spirit working in us. 

While my rose bush feels no pain in the pruning, sometimes you and I do. We must trust the Vinedresser to do His great work, until that day when we too see what He sees us in. 

Bloom on, sisters, until the day of the big reveal.

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