"Relax in My peaceful presence...I am able to bring out the best in you: the very gifts that I have planted in your soul. Relax, and enjoy our friendship." (201)
One Sunday, while we were in Hawaii, the message in the beautiful new Kihei Chapel, was taken from the John 15 passage, also referenced in our devotional today. The key point of the message was that those who are branches in The Vine (Jesus), will experience pruning times, no matter what! Spiritually dead or withering branches are cut off, but the fruitful branches are continually being pruned...why? To produce even MORE fruit!
This is how Jesus "brings out the best in us." "The very gifts (He) planted in our souls" are the means by which we are able to produce fruit every day!
The beautiful blooming bushes, where we stay in Hawaii, are continually being pruned, once or twice weekly. However, one year, a number of fruit-bearing trees and especially the plumeria trees around our condo-complex were being radically pruned. We were shocked as we watched the lush, flower-laden branches drop to the ground, leaving a stark tree trunk with stumpy naked branches sticking out. Next year, when we returned, we saw how pruning really prompted unbelievable beauty ...flowers, fruit and lush foliage... the fulfillment of faithfulness displayed in nature!
During that same year we experienced some radical pruning in our personal lives. Both Joe and I had a parent go to heaven; his mother, my father. Gratefully, both were ready and looking forward to heaven, but their absence was certainly a huge loss for us. It was a kind of relational pruning. Taking a lesson from nature, I prayed that even this kind of severe pruning would be an example of Psalm 34:8, where the fruit of my life could encourage others to....
Taste and see that the Lord is Good!...dmc