With pruning shears in hand, the gardener emerged from his garden shed. He shivered as the cold of winter hit his face. These cold dark months were sad for him as he longed and hoped for the growth that comes in the Spring. As he approached slowly, he stopped first to observe the vine before him. He had known this would happen, but he was saddened by the way some of the branches had become so weak and frail as they shot out from the vine in so many directions.
He was strong and yet gentle, swift and yet careful as he slowly purged the deadwood from the vine. With each crack, the gardener removed the branches that bore no fruit. They were lifeless with little purpose and dropped to the ground without much effort. After the dead branches were gone, the gardener moved on to his next task. With more difficulty, the gardener sniped his sheers at the live branches, cutting them back. To the ignorant, this pruning may have seemed unnecessary, but he could see the plans that lay ahead.
Snip... snip... snip... his shears danced across the branches as he shifted his head from side to side to gain perspective for which branch needed to be pruned next. When finished, he stood back up to observe his work. As his eyes scanned from the the clippings that now lay on the ground up to the top of the vine, he took a moment to reflect. A small smile took over his face for what he knew in his heart... this pruning, while so painful, is the only way to bring fruit in the Spring.
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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
1 week ago