Grapes are an interesting creation. I say this because in order to get them to grow well, you need to cut them back. Every fall when my family prunes back our grapes I wonder how they will possibly grow back the next year, but they always do. Moreover, they grow back bigger and healthier than the year before and they produce more fruit with each passing year! It’s strange to think about, but pruning them actually stimulates their growth for the next season and helps them to be more fruitful.
Similarly, in John 15 Jesus compared people to grape vines. If you have a grape vine that isn’t producing fruit then you get it out of the way to make room for a new one that will. Jesus said that God the Father is like a vinedresser who clears out the old vines that aren’t producing fruit and works on the healthy ones so that they will produce even more fruit.
One thing to remember though, is that pruning isn’t gentle, and it’s not easy. The vine gets cut back until it basically looks like a stick in the ground. The vinedresser has to get rid of everything. He has to harvest the fruit, and then cut off all of the leaves and branches so that the vine has to start over in the spring. Do you ever feel like you’re having to start over in your spiritual growth? It can be so discouraging when you feel like you were making progress and producing fruit, and now you feel like you’re back to square one and in a season that feels like a spiritual winter where nothing is growing in your life. But don’t be discouraged! Remember that you are in the hands of the universe’s best vinedresser and he may just be pruning you so that you can produce more fruit in the next season!