I’m so excited to spend this evening with the ladies of Southside Methodist, Jacksonville sharing God’s faithfulness in their Summer Salads series.
I love June because it means blueberries are in season. Nearly every year since our children were young, we’ve hunted up a local farm to u-pick blueberries. In Florida, it gets hot and buggy so we always start the morning early. Family rule is everyone has to pick a bucket to earn a ride home! Thankfully, only buckets — not people — are weighed so we get to taste which trees have the best fruit.
This year we went to the farm managed by someone in our church. She and her husband are new at blueberry farming and began managing the blueberries a few years ago. We chatted about the year’s production as we weighed our berries and I wrote a check. We talked about last year’s crop and the year’s before.
She said their best blueberry season was about three years ago. She and her husband had pruned the trees way back. The next year wasn’t a great year. The trees had great new growth after the pruning but the growth had not yet produced berries. But the following year, that new growth budded and blossomed into a banner harvest. As she relayed their experience, I thought of John 15:
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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Even branches that bear fruit get pruned. Why, because the farmer doesn’t like the fruit? Or he’s just out to make it difficult for the plants? No. A seasoned farmer knows that pruning plants is THE WAY to produce more fruit.
As this friend explained, fertilizer is necessary. There also needs to be rain, but not too much and the weather must cooperate as well — a couple months just cold enough but not too cold to kill the blooms. But only pruning will really get the bush to produce an abundant crop.
Jesus tells us that same principle applies to us. I’m not really crazy about the pruning. I like the fruit just fine, but the pruning, well, I actually pray against that. Lord, please let my finances work out. Please get a renter for that house. Please make this hard thing go away.
But, our loving Vinedresser, God the Father, prunes in love. He prunes every branch that is already bearing fruit. A perfect Vinedresser, He prunes with perfection, never to damage but to make us bud and blossom with abundant fruit.
And here’s the kicker. It’s not a one time deal. Just as the farmer will prune his trees again and again over the life of the plant to encourage regular, abundant fruit, we should expect pruning delivered and allowed by the Sovereign hand of our Vinedresser,
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
That’s the default title but I kinda like it. Where else do you really begin? So glad I finally sat down, signed up for WordPress and started this site. For the last three years, I’ve clung to this name for God: Faithful and True. I mean, I’ve always known that God is trustworthy but I really didn’t get it until the summer of 2011.
That summer actually started really well. We were full throttle into summer activities and church trips and swim lessons when the bottom absolutely dropped out of life as we knew it. My husband and I had just returned from a business trip to the Keys. This was huge, because in our 25 years of marriage, we had only gotten away without kids a couple of times. But Dan had asked me to go and I had reluctantly agreed. Of course I wanted to go, but I had hesitated because, with 7 kids, it was complicated to try to leave even for a few days. Plus, we would return just in time for me to pack the family up and head out the next day to Maine for my parents’ 50th anniversary.
Our oldest son, then 20, had already left to work as a camp counselor for the summer in North Carolina. I am so very grateful that before he left, we planned some very intentional family time together. Our daughter, the next oldest, was a rising high school senior. We also had four energetic younger boys who were 16, 14, 12 and 6 years old and finally – praise the Lord – another little girl, who was 4. So yes, life was at full speed and it was good. Dan loved his job and was thriving in his work.
But I’m going to push pause right here. The next part still takes so much energy to express, so I’ll save that for tomorrow. For today, no tears. Just good memories of a good, busy, messy, happy, promising, full-color life.