There is a period in the late Fall when a mature orchard gets a lot of work. The pruning process is absolutely essential. Most folks, however, seem to have this concept of a litte snip here and a little snip there works just fine to get things right. Not so. Take a good look at this picture from the autumn period in the San Joaquin Valley in California:
Notice the size of the branches and parts of trees that have been cut. Many of them are really big–big enough to make fire wood. So fully fruit-producing branches were removed because some were too big, some were diseased, some were growing in the wrong direction, and some were too small. It takes a trained crew to see what needs to be done and get the work done.
So it is with believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Fully mature believers and young believers need the same pruning process done. It may be more obvious that new believers need some pruning, but everyone needs it, and they need it often.
Jesus used a vineyard pruning process as the perfect example for what is required for us to be fruitful (John 15:1 and following). He specifically points to fruit-bearing vineyards–those already producing good fruit–because they still need regular work. The Father does the pruning, and His sight is much better than a trained crew in a vineyard. He knows what to take off and where and how much. It almost always, to the untrained eye, seems like too much is being removed. If you think that, then realize you might have a glorified view of the value of your fruit or the depth of your abiding in Him. The Father sees better (an understatement) and knows what parts of our lives need some pruning, redirecting, and reworking so more and better fruit can be produced. Further, do not underestimate our ability in this fallen world to make mistakes, go in the wrong direction, or think everything is just fine when its not. Believe me, we need every bit of the Father’s work.
Sometimes we forgot, too, that we are in the orchard with many other “trees.” God is the only one that sees what needs to be done to make the whole orchard more fruitful. His view, motivated by his incredible love and righteousness, is perfect for the individual or the whole church. So pastor, deacon, prayer warrior, worker in Christ, new believer, or old believer, home group, or mega church, take to heart that God knows what His is doing when things seem chopped off a little too much. Better fruit is His aim. Realize, too, that the season of pruning repeats. It must. The person too big to prune is too big. The person that thinks he is too small to prune is too small. Both need attention by the Master Pruner. Both, if they surrender to the process, will get His attention in the right manner.
Take a look online at images of pruning or go to an orchard or vineyard during the next pruning season. Then you will have a clear picture of God’s perfect description of His process in us, as He explains for the Record in John 15. If we truly want to abide in Him, He must do what He has to do.