PRUNING AND THE HARVEST
In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon wrote by inspiration that there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. According to the calendar, we are in the harvest season, at least for most crops. Wheat, oats, and barley have been gathered. Corn and soy beans are next. Fruit trees are loaded with apples and pears which must be picked before the first frost. The pumpkin field near my house tells me that it is fall, and the changing color of the leaves confirms it.
~ Pastor Ben Golisch
Thinking about the season and the harvest and about our fall season, there is a simple truth which can easily be overlooked this time of year. While there are a lot of variables that go into a harvest, much of it is determined by the spring. If the fields are too soggy in the spring so that farmers are delayed in getting things planted, it affects the harvest. If the soil has not received the needed nutrients throughout the winter, it can affect the harvest. If the fruit trees and grape vines were not pruned properly in the spring or even the previous fall, it will affect the harvest.
There is a spiritual application. Jesus told his disciples, “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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-5)
So, if we want to bear a spiritual harvest, what does that mean? First, we must stay connected to Jesus. How do we do that? Weekly worship is a start. Bible classes and Sunday School are very important. Personal Bible study and a regular prayer life go a long way toward keeping us connected in faith to Jesus.
A second thing we must note is the pruning of the Father. Pruning is something usually done in the spring. You trim back the plant and shape it just so in order that it will bloom and blossom the way you want. But that still means cutting the tree, branch, or vine. The cut affects the tree. It can be traumatic to the plant. But the Gardener does so for good, not evil.
In the same way, God brings cuts into our lives, not to make us miserable, but to help us bear even more fruit. So, perhaps that lost job is meant to relocate you to a better job opportunity or to develop a different skill. Perhaps that sickness is meant to help you be more compassionate toward others who are undergoing similar ailments. The point is, God has a purpose and a plan to help you better know his love for you and to better show your love for Jesus and Christ’s love in you. By pruning, God is preparing you for the harvest.
There is one more thing I should add: the warning. If we fail to stay connected to Jesus, we cannot bear fruit. And if we are not bearing spiritual fruit, what earthly good are we? We are only “clean” (a play on words with “prune”) because of the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ. So again, we want to stay connected to Jesus so that we may produce a spiritual harvest for the Lord. God bless your harvest!