“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.” John 15:1-2

For me, gardening is an exercise in trust.

I drop tiny seeds into ground, believing that most of them will sprout and grow into ample food for my family and myself.

In faith, I thin out my rows of seedlings, pulling out perfectly healthy plants to make room for others to grow, confident that this will actually give me a better yield.

One of the more difficult parts about gardening is pruning. I find myself second-guessing how much of a branch to cut off, or if I really need to get rid of all but a couple of raspberry canes.
It seems counter-intuitive that less branches would equal more fruit.

In the same way, God takes His clippers to me, His branch. He doesn’t hold back; He prunes away all of the unfruitful parts of my life.

Any desire that would take glory away from Him is snipped off. Any plan that feeds my ego rather than a Christ-like spirit is stripped away.

He would rather that I would be a spindly stalk that produces fruit than a lush bush covered with leaves that produces nothing of value. And when I really think about it, so would I.

God, help me to accept the pruning You do in my life, and trust that You know what is best for me. As You prune, may Your Spirit work in my life to make me more like the true vine, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

During my last trip to Israel I allowed my husband to talk me into going through Hezekiah’s tunnel. At first, the cool water and width were fine but as we travelled deeper into the dark, cold, and wet tunnel the walls narrowed and I started to panic. Immediately, I turned to my husband and begged him to turn around but he and our guide said we could not and as my husband cajoled me onward, I knew I had to conquer my fears and move forward one step at a time. With each step, I prayed for strength and comfort and when we reached the end I felt victorious and thankful that I moved forward instead of turning back.

This experience reminds me of a popular song ‘Burn the Ships’ by the Christian group, “King and Country.” The song is based on the historical story of the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes and the bold decision he made when he and his men reached the shores of Latin America. Cortes knew his troops would encounter hostile natives, tropical diseases and unfamiliar terrain. As their leader, he was concerned his men would not want to persevere through all the challenges but would instead go back to the ships and sail back to Spain. To obviate this possibility, Cortez burned the ships.

Job 17:9 states,

The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.”

Do not let your fears or past experiences become your master and prevent you from accomplishing the plans God has for your life.

Father, thank you that you will help me persevere in following Jesus no matter what obstacles I face. Help me to not turn back, because I know you have a perfect plan that will come to pass in your good time.