When God Takes
When God Takes
In the front of my journal, handwritten on the first page, I have the Bible passage from John 15:1-14 where Jesus talks about being ‘the true vine’.
In this passage He says that His Father is the vine dresser, and that we are branches. It seems like every time I read that short passage it speaks to me in a big way.
I revisited it the other day, and the part that really jumped out at me was verse 2.
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. – Jesus – John 15:2
Jesus says that His father will prune, or cut away parts, of every person in Christ whose life is becoming fruitful. When God takes away, He does this so that it will be even more fruitful.
Any good gardener or farmer can explain it in great detail, but pruning is basically cutting away some of the branches in a plant so that more of the nutrients and energy can be given to those areas that are producing the fruit.
It’s simple, and it makes perfect sense.
In real life though, this process can be much more confusing. Our modern church culture spends a great deal of time focusing on how much God wants to get more to you and increase what you’ve already got. What it doesn’t always do a great job of is telling and understanding what He’s really trying to increase or how He goes about doing it.
When we are staying connected to Christ, we will produce fruit. In fact, He says that if you remain there, we will bear much fruit. It just happens. Our lives are fed with the very life that flows through Christ.
Good things start happening all around us, and we get real excited about how awesome it is to be a follower of Christ.
Life is filled with stuff. Some of it’s great, some of it’s good, some of it’s bad, and some of it is just stuff that’s there taking up space. The challenge in leading the most significantly productive lives is the challenge of removing as many of the not-great things as possible.
Unfortunately, we don’t see the whole picture or understand the entire plan. Only God does, and therefore He’s the only one qualified to decide what stays and goes in our lives. Obviously this involves removing the bad and a lot of the time wasters, but sometimes it involves removing some good things too.
Many times, I’ve heard that the enemy of the great isn’t the bad, but the good. If God’s ultimate plan for your life is to preach the gospel in an South American jungle, then becoming a pastor in Idaho, no matter how good it seems, would still hinder your life from being what it is designed to be. God may orchestrate the closing of that door, or removing of that opportunity, in a process that is pruning your life for a much better future.
But I’m not a South American Missionary…
More than likely, you’re not next on God’s list of people to send into South America, but your calling and purpose is no less significant than if you were.
In ‘normal’ life, this ‘pruning’ takes many different shapes. He may remove relationships you don’t want to let go of. He may allow you to be let go from your job. He may tell you to stop doing something that you’ve always enjoyed doing – even though there’s nothing wrong with it.
We often don’t realize that it is God operating until much later when everything falls into place. The challenge is to stay connected and continue to trust through the process regardless of whether or not it makes sense.
I don’t know what doors are closing in your life today or what it seems like you’re being robbed of at this moment. What I do know is that when you do stay connected to Jesus, you will find a greater future than the past you’ve left behind.
When you stop fighting against the pruning and the more you stay connected to the source, the greater the fruit your life will produce.