I love to throw stuff away. I’m not a saver. I’m not sentimental. I even threw away my high school yearbooks. I didn’t feel like hauling them to Africa.
This makes the idea of pruning attractive to me. I get to “throw away” branches that I don’t particularly like, or that aren’t bearing fruit.
I was able to practice the art of pruning a couple of years ago when we first moved into our house here in Mozambique. There is a lemon tree in the front yard. It was in terrible shape when we arrived. Branches went everywhere. Sappers shot out of the trunk. Lemons were hard to be found.
The previous owner told me it might be worth cutting down the tree. It was no longer bearing much fruit, but I thought I would give it another chance. So I went to work pruning. I didn’t just trim a little here and there; I hacked. Major branches came down. All the sappers were removed. Putty was applied to new wounds to keep new sappers from shooting out. All this to no avail. The next year there were even fewer lemons. So again I trimmed, no major branches this time, but every branch that didn’t have a lemon was removed.
And then the pruning paid off. I’m overflowing with lemons this year. The branches are weighed down with fruit. What a wonderful paradox: By eliminating, you gain.
So I’ve been reflecting for a couple of days on what this means for my life. How do I need to be pruned? Jesus said, “every branch that does bear fruit [God] prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
I’d like to be more fruitful in 2015. That means I must be pruned. I would rather be the one who holds the shears, but I don’t think that is how this works.
(photography by Abigail Terpstra)