When God Prunes Your Heart
As soon as the words left my mouth, it happened.
I was thanking God for the miracle He had worked in my heart, thinking my flesh had been defeated for good in this area of my life.
But all it took was one tiny trigger-one blip of another’s disapproval- for my flesh to rear its ugly head again. And along with it- the ugly thoughts in my heart, which overflowed to my mouth.
I wanted to check this spiritual struggle off my list. Be done with it. Be completely free.
It was painful to realize that I wasn’t as perfect as I thought I was.
It was painful in that moment to hear the Spirit whisper, There’s still work to be done in your heart. There’s still deadness lingering, in the hidden crevices. It’s been hidden from your view, managing to go unnoticed when circumstances were peaceful. I'm pruning you. Pruning you so that circumstance no longer influences your peace.
Pruning. The word even sounds painful. It’s not something I want to experience.
But in John 15, Jesus indicated that it’s an intricate part of the process of spiritual growth.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. (John 15:1-2 NIV)
Pruning, by definition, is to trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches to increase fruitfulness or growth.
Cutting. That’s exactly what happens as we are pruned.
Cutting for me is usually the moment I realize that I’m not as spiritual as I thought I was. That moment when I realize that the deadness of sin is still residing within me, even if I am not always aware of its presence.
Deadness often looks like-
Loving that thing so doggone much that it begins to compete with God. Idolatry is nothing more than immoderate attachment to something other than Jesus.
Or maybe it's the bitterness I'm harboring over what was done to me or said about me, or even over what wasn’t done for me and what wasn’t said about me.
Perhaps it's the constant competition with people who often don’t even know I’m competing with them, because I’m secretly sizing my life up to their social media’s display of their joys.
If I’m being honest, I do these things more than I believe I do. I usually do them in secret ways, without even realizing it- not being able to live without electronics for a day, withholding likes from her social media photos and posts, or not giving that person what I so desperately wanted her to give me.
We could go on, but the point is, we are all familiar with the deadness I’m referencing here.
God's Word, double-edged sword that it is, pierces into the very core of who we are, making a clear-cut division between our actions themselves and the attitudes of our hearts that motivated them.
Pruning is painful. It’s coming face to face with my flesh that I’m still very much wrestling against and realizing that I have not already attained the perfection promised in Scripture.
The good news? This pain is not without purpose.
As I was watching a vineyard's video about pruning, I was struck by what the farmer said.
He said if the branches aren’t cut back, they grow out of control and take over the garden. You have to cut off the dead weight so that new fruit can grow.
This is exactly what Jesus said in John 15. Even though the process of pruning is painful, the purpose is good: God prunes us to make us “even more fruitful.”
If we find ourselves in a pruning season, it’s not necessarily because we did something “wrong.” In my story, I was thanking God for the work He had done. I was giving Him the credit and the glory because I knew He deserved it. He doesn’t prune us because we are not bearing fruit. He prunes us for more.
He’s always offering more. More life. More growth. More grace.
Spiritual growth-bearing the fruit of the Spirit in increasing measure-cannot come without pruning.
Jesus continued in John 15 that we must remain in Him because apart from Him, we can do nothing. Only in Him and with Him can we produce fruit. And only the branches that are “in Him,” growing out from the true Vine, receive the gardener’s care.
Our fruitfulness is dependent upon our connectedness. We can’t miss this truth. And God’s pruning, though painful, serves to remind us of our desperate need for His presence and power to produce growth in our lives.
When we are in a season of pruning, we can take heart knowing that new growth is coming.
He’s taking our love of others to another level.
He’s giving us joy at a greater depth.
He’s providing peace when peace is senseless.
He’s making us patient even when we have no reason for hope.
When God prunes our hearts, He's lovingly making a way for us to be more fruitful than we ever dreamed we could be.
Father, help me to trust You as gardener. Because nothing is hidden from Your sight, I trust You to see the parts of me that need to be pruned, the deadness holding me back from the fullness of life in You. Help me to be receptive to the Word that cuts so deeply and yet mends so wholly those same cuts it made. Make me more fruitful God. Help me never to be content with where I am but always desiring more of You. Help me to remain in You as seamlessly as You remain in me. I know that apart from You, Jesus, I can do nothing.