a spiritual side to prunes

Prunes might be one of the most misunderstood fruits on the planet. First of all, do you even know exactly what a prune is? I mean, sure we all probably have at least an idea of what they are, but why do they seem to get such a bad rap all the time? It's just a thought. And as it turns out, I don't even care too much about prunes...I mostly wanted to introduce the topic of pruning. No, I'm not talking about sitting in the bath tub until your skin gets soft and wrinkly. It's a horticultural practice that involves cutting dead or fruitless branches and leaves from a tree or bush, for the purpose of revitalizing the plant's growth.

Orchard and vineyard caretakers have to be familiar with pruning their crops. Otherwise, each consecutive year will end up yielding less and less harvest from the plants that get older and older. The principle behind the pruning process is rooted (excuse the arboreal pun...) in the concept of shaping how a tree develops and grows throughout its life. When new branches and buds grow, the tips (called the apical meristems) produce natural growth hormone, causing the cells in that region to divide, as well as stopping cell division further down the branch. So, to make more potentially fruit-bearing branches and buds, arborists cut off sections of the plant at different junctions to force more branching. This way, every year a new spread of buds will form, producing the optimum amount of fruit on strong, healthy branches.

By now, you're probably wondering how I'm going to draw a spiritual perspective out of this. Well, before you ask, [insert succinct and pertinent segue here]. A disciple of Jesus Christ named John writes an account of Jesus speaking the following words: "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." (John 15:1-4, NIV)

For us to bear fruit in our lives, we have to trust that the Master Gardener knows how best we can grow, and that when He "prunes" us, He does so with the goal of our fruitfulness in mind. And now, please allow me to briefly mention something important here. The original word that John wrote that we now translate as "prune" (or "purge" in other versions) is the Greek word kathairo. It's a verb that means to cleanse of filth or impurity. In context, the word is pretty accurately translated as prune, but I just tend to be intrigued by the wording of Bible passages as they were two thousand years ago. The only thing I would point out is how important it is to realize that when God prunes us, He is removing everything that is disgusting, corrupt, and undesirable from our very being.

Here's the gist of what I hope you get from the past few minutes of reading this blog...that we can respond to God's pruning of our lives by incorporating several habits. In a very practical sense, getting pruned looks like this: being open and receptive to God's message, as well as to the people and events that focus you on God, to the challenges (both to you personally and to your fellowship) that purify us, and to the times in our lives when things that distract us are taken away. Sound familiar? It should, because it's the same reason that farmers take away pieces and lengths of a fruit tree or a grape vine; to allow the plant to redirect its energy into buds that will bear more fruit in the future, by purging the plant of bad branches.

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Author's note: These particular thoughts of mine were stirred by my dad, when I was home for President's Day weekend.



3: (v.) to redirect rays of light into a converging pattern

As mentioned in my previous post, I am going to talk about a subject that, quite frankly, gives me the heebily jeebies. That topic is girls, or more accurately, romantic pursuits of the aforementioned population. After you read the following blurb that I wrote (a little bit stream-of-conscious-ly, I'm afraid), you will probably be able to get a grasp on what I most recently believe regarding this subject, but real quickly, I will pre-summarize thus: I think that when we seek the presence of God and listen for the words of His Spirit, making this our priority while choosing not to be distracted by the search for a partner (though this is perfectly natural!), then God will honor our pursuit of Him over what the world tells us to pursue and will lead us to the person whom He has in mind for us.

Just because we are following the Spirit doesn't make life's circumstances and decisions easy all of a sudden. We might be led by the Spirit into a situation where we do not "succeed" (at least, according to the world's definition). Even if we seem to fail, it doesn't mean that we were not hearing and obeying God, because He can lead us through the straits of life so that we grow.

Ever since Thursday afternoon, I feel like I did obey the Spirit by talking with someone (I'll call her Eilemé) who's been a potential relationship interest about our friendship. And as if to make it clear that I did the right thing, God hasn't just given me a supernatural peace in my spirit, but He has gone so far as to change my whole being so that I now have a freedom such as I haven't felt in almost seven years. In this freedom, I still feel the same attractions that I did before, except now I don't have to act or emote in response to these attractions. Eilemé doesn't seem any less attractive than she did last week, but now I can choose not to be led by that. Instead, I can just focus on God and on following the nudging of His Spirit, trusting that He will know when I am ready for a life-mate, and that He will show me when and who that is. In the meantime, my priority will be my relationship with God alone, and no one will attract me more than God.

Not that I have already obtained this, but I can sense myself being closer to this kind of freedom than ever before. By God's grace, she and I will remain good friends, and hopefully the two of us will continue to build each other up.

I truly do not feel how the average guy apparently feels when someone "turns him down". Instead, I feel like she turned me right, or gave me a shove (okay, more like a caring push) toward God. Almost like it was not a rejection, but rather a redirection. Don't get me wrong...I understand that she isn't in a place where she wants to start a relationship with me, or with anyone. But now I'm in a place where I feel like I'm still not ready for a relationship, either, because this area of my life is definitely not one of total surrender to God. From this point in my life, until He shows me the woman for me, I am going to focus on my relationship with my Lord, Savior, and Counselor, because His grace is the lens that redirects my efforts in the direction that He wants me.

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Author's note: For those who don't get why I chose "Eilemé" as the fictitious name above, it's because that name is from the novel that I'm writing. You can check it out and download the PDF for free here.


in love

Yeah, it's true. I'm in pretty deep, as in the falling-head-over-heels kind of love. Somehow, the One whom I desire also loves me...which means the tragedy of unrequited love is not ours. My Lord and Savior has proven His heart for me in such innumerable ways that even if I just started to mention an example, it would almost be a waste, because there is no way for me to finish recounting every one.

All that I can do is shout my thanks to the world; whether they care or not, I will to continue sharing the news. And to tell the truth, at this moment, I wrote those words knowing fully well that my intentions are only those: intentions. My life must change in order to live out the freedom with which God has anointed my spirit. I am almost afraid of the overflowing potential that the Holy Spirit could well up within me. Perhaps that is a similar reason to why I cannot bring myself to discuss the other way in which I am in love right now.

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Author's note: Here's a head's up to those wondering about the cryptic nature of the last sentence...I will publish another post soon regarding how things pan out.