Call me strange if you want, but I really enjoy working outside and gardening and the like. Over the past week I had the thrill of trimming the tree here in the André House parking lot. It was a pretty heavy duty trimming job and very satisfying. But it also reminded me of the Gospel reading a few weeks ago about God pruning us so that we produce more fruit (John 15:1-8). Although I always thought it a nice analogy, this week I was able to reflect on it a little more as I had a very concrete example right in front of me.
Many of the guests who saw me sawing large limbs off the tree were upset or confused.
“You’re cutting down our tree? Taking away our shade?”
“Do you think those branches are dead? They’re not dead. Don’t cut those off.”
“Ouch! You’re hurting that poor tree.”
I tried to explain to the guests that I realize the branches are not dead, but that by cutting off the lower branches, the tree will continue to grow larger and fill out more. I can guide the growth of the tree by getting rid of the branches that serve little purpose so that the branches that remain receive more nutrients, thus growing bigger and stronger. “There may be a little less shade now, but in the long term you will have much more shade and the tree will be healthier” I assured them.
It was a good reminder to me that while the process may be painful and hard for me to see what it achieves at the time, God has my ultimate fulfillment and holiness in mind when He prunes me. By getting rid of the parts of me that serve no purpose or distract me from Him, He helps to guide me toward Him and grow into a fuller, more fruitful Christian – more of the person that He created me to be.