I’m having so much fun with it this year, although it’s been a while since I gardened. You can accurately call me a gardener hobbyist. the time we add up the time, preparations, and purchases to grow our own veggies, I don’t think I will financially break even from this venture. Although its a lot of work, it’s so exciting as the plants begin to mature, and there’s nothing like harvesting and eating the literal fruit of my labors. I had been watering the plants and was happy to see the lush vegetation, but I was pressed to find any “fruit of my labors.” There were plenty of big beautiful leaves, stems, and vines, but only a few, small vegetables. I realized that I had missed something important about being a gardener, pruning.
Pruning is painful for me. It feels like a waste to cut the leaves and foilage off of a living thriving and living plant. However, any good gardener knows that to get the best from the plant, you have to prune. Pruning removes the extra parts that divert resources and allows the plant to focus its resources on its vegetables or fruit. It was so difficult to take my scissors and snips and remove these very healthy plant parts and leaves. If I didn’t make myself do it, the plant would not serve its purpose.
2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.John 15:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
I cringed as I brutally cut off vibrant green parts of the plants. Since I had put this off and the plants were large, they went into shock, but then after a day or two, I saw the literal fruits of my labor. The entire purpose of my work in planting a garden was for fresh produce. It feels brutal to cut up the plants. The process reminded me of the pointy verse John 15:2. It’s always been equal parts scary and comforting as it straddles the delicate line between not wanting to get cut and God is taking care of me by ensuring that I grow to lead an effective life. I want to be fruitful, to serve the purpose I have here on the earth, but I have lots of leaves that divert nourishment from my fruit. I definitely don’t want to be one of those big beautiful leaves thrown onto the compost heap.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31 English Standard Version (ESV)
At first glance, my plants looked healthy with those extra leaves, but they weakened my plant. We are like that as people. What is my fruit as a Christian? Jesus answered that question as he said the greatest command is to love God with all of our hearts and love our brother as ourselves. It wasn’t a suggestion or an option, it was a command, and “The greatest command.” The definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 helps me to identify those areas I need to grow and what I need to cut. It’s not pleasant, I’m cringing at something that I need to cut out. If we read the love scripture and see something that stands out to us, it’s God giving us wisdom on what to cut off. His loving hand will help, heal, and comfort us as we share the hold of the snips in his hand, and he gently prunes our hearts.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never ends.1 Corinthians 13:4-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
God, you are a loving Gardner who wants what’s best for me. As I read 1 Corinthians 13, I see some areas I need to cut out. There is no way I can truly love well without your help. Please take the areas of my heart that insists on its own way. God, it’s not easy to submit to your will in this, but I’m pushing through. Please remove any jealousy or boastfulness, and help me not to be rude when I get angry so I can speak the truth in love. I choose to rejoice in the truth and not deception no matter how uncomfortable it is to me. Pruning isn’t pleasant, but you are there to hold the snips with me, to steady my hand, and to heal me of the wounds. Thank you for loving me perfectly and being 1 Corinthians 13 for me. God, help me to be this for others. In Jesus’ name.