“The Appropriate Pruning Time”

By: Marcy Barthelette

I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing He prunes back so it will bear even more. John 15:1-2

I don’t know about you, but my tiny thread of patience is growing even thinner dealing with storm after storm, after yet another series of storms. I just may have mentioned in the past that patience is not one of my strengths, but come on, this spring has offered up a plethora of storms. I choose the word plethora because one of our beloved weather forecasters used it often during the hours of continuous coverage when tornado warnings were in place. It seemed inconsistent with his typical vocabulary so it stuck. I think I’m becoming much too familiar with those weather people.

At any rate, the storms have been ruling our life’s schedule for weeks now. Questions like, “Do we have enough time to sneak in a grocery run?” “Is the grass dry enough to mow before the next rain/hail event?” “Do we need to park a vehicle in our neighbor’s extra garage?” “Where did you put those documents or keys or my wallet?” Well, you know, it’s all packed to go into the storm shelter. And so it goes. Our weather Apps seem to be issuing constant notifications of another round of all kinds of destructive weather.

I just want to spend some time in my landscape beds. If the bunnies have left anything for me, I’ll need to prune and deadhead to keep whatever remains out there in a healthy condition. Spring is the optimum time for pruning lilacs, azaleas, and other early shrubs, just after their blooms die off. Blooms appear on the previous year’s wood, so, if you wait until later in summer or fall, you’ll be cutting off next year’s blooms. The foliage left behind by my spring bulb plants needs to be cut back when it begins to fade, and the few blooms that the bunnies didn’t eat need to be protected, somehow, from those sharp little teeth.  

Our oaks and maples are always in need of pruning, but many of the dead branches are too high to reach. This is when spring storms come in handy. You see, God does a pretty good job of pruning away what doesn’t belong. His spring storms bring dead branches to the earth where they can be ground for mulch or thrown on the fire.

Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.  John 15:6

He does the same for us. Sometimes we carry around too much baggage and it damages our ability to live like Jesus taught us by His own example. He knows we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but He wants to offer us the opportunity to be better. When trouble comes your way and things just can’t seem to go right, He may be pruning you a bit to equip you for something much better. So even as I say, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now,” I know that whatever is happening is part of a much larger blueprint, and whatever God has in store, He’ll let me know in His good time.

I share a few of the lyrics from the lovely praise song, Tend, and hope they say something special to you. They capture the essence of one of my favorite scripture passages from John, used above, and taken this time from The Message. You can hear the whole song on YouTube.

In the landscape of my life, You don’t rush through any season, You always take your time. A careful hand, a gentle guide, You take what’s dead away and You prune what’s running wild.


So be the gardener of my heart, tend the soil of my soul

Break up the fallow ground, cut back the overgrown

And I won’t shy away, I will let the branches fall

So what You want can stay and what You love can grow.

Emmy Rose, Jessie Early, and Michaela Gentile


2 Responses to ““The Appropriate Pruning Time””

  1. Sally Parker says:

    A lovely write and oh so true. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Grace Bryson says:

    I’m the same way patience is not my strong suit
    Then I’m reminded that I’m not in control so I wait and pray. And you know every time I do that God’s hand is revealed to me in His love, mercy and grace.
    Thanks for your article I really appreciate it.

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