This past Sunday, our church planted a dogwood tree to commemorate our 10th anniversary. The question that one might ask is, "How many Baptists does it take to plant a tree?" Well, in our case, several people participated:
Of course, once the tree is planted, now the more delicate work begins...taking care of it.
One of our scripture readings this past Sunday was John 15:1-8 where Jesus talks of being the true vine. Quite frankly, there are portions of this passage that can be kind of scary...when Jesus speaks of a branch being thrown into the fire and burned. Yet, ponder the following slant on this passage from N.T. Wright.
"Someone told me how (to prune roses) when I was young and I’ve never forgotten. In fact, I not only know how to do it, I even know why (well, more or less). A rose bush, left to itself, will get straggly and tangled, and grow in on itself.
It will produce quite a lot of not-so-good roses rather than a smaller number of splendid ones. It will, quite literally, get in its own light. It needs help to grow in the right directions and to the right ends.
So you prune it to stop it wasting its energy and being unproductive. You cut out, particularly, the parts of the plant that are growing inwards and getting tangled up. You encourage the shoots that are growing outwards, toward the light. You prune the rose, in other words, to help it to be its true self."
Wright concludes with these words:
The vine-dresser is never closer to the vine, taking more thought over its long-term health and productivity, than when he has the knife in his hand.
What comforting thoughts for believers as we consider God the Father as close to us as He can be when He is in the process of pruning us. He is going about the delicate work of taking care of his own.
Chuck Strong is pastor at Olive Branch Fellowship Church