Earlier this month the idea kept coming to mind that my friend, Stephen, was not getting around to the laborious task of pruning and training his vineyard and that the swelling of the bud would be upon us in another month. I knew that Stephen had not done this task last year either and that his vineyard of one hundred or so Cynthiana had suffered a fungal infection in late summer which destroyed numerous vines and most of the harvest.
The reader must know that Stephen is not slack in husbandry. He is soon to retire from a long season as an RN in a facility for underdeveloped people who are all most pitiful in mind and body. He works third shift which is a horror in itself. Stephen has been a shepherd to many poor souls for many years, but his own vineyard needed attention. I felt compelled to go and help.
The most striking realization in this brief afternoon is a validation of my own long term calling as a vine dresser for the Lord. There were multiple ideas that have come to mind in this theme, but this one is my take away and I am grateful to the Vine Dresser for allowing me to function with him in his vineyard, the Church.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he takes away, and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast into the fire, and they are burned. KJV, John 15:1-6.
The end purposes of pruning are to:
Promote new growth and increase the quality and quantity of fruit,
Bring the branches of the vine to rejoicing,
Keep the vines from interfering with each other,
Identify and remove disease and pests,
Promote healing and health,
Enable the branches to Abide within the Vine, and
Make the vines beautiful for the Owner of the Vineyard.
They need the pruning,
That God will send a personal and assigned vine dresser,
Pruning is an expression of God's love,
A new season of growth is just a month away,
They need not fear the pruning,
The pruning will not go on forever, and
Unhappiness and tragedy is reserved for the wild and unpruned vines.
The vine dresser must:
Precede the vines in the cuttings of the Lord,
Become very skilled in this work of art,
Clearly see the model of the Perfect Vine,
Use a sharp blade and keep it sharp,
Serve the Lord beyond the norms of church society, family, and friendships,
Overcome the enemies of the vineyard, and
Be faithful to the calling above all else.
(Tommy has been my loving and faithful husband for 46 years now. We have served the Lord together in the Lord's vineyard known as Tree of Life Ministries.)