When we were in Tuscany in September, I saw grape vines pruned back drastically to about three feet, and above them, masses of plump abundant grapes, black, green, purple.
Grape vines grow as tall as you let them. We have some growing in our conservatory and the side of our barn, which are 10-15 feet.
These, however, were cut back savagely, sending all the energy upwards, and look at the fruit!
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I wish I had taken in this visual lesson earlier. How much more productive I would have been.
But I have learnt it now.
Cut back the inessentials, so that you can be fruitful in the essentials, the one thing you have been put on earth to do.
Jesus at the end of his life said, “I have done the work you have given me to do.” (John 17:4)
So cut back even the good things; the volunteerism; your social media friendships, so that the work he has given you to do, the fruit you want to produce, gleams more beautifully.
Ask yourself: Is this activity the work God has given me to do? If not, even if it is a good thing–taking a turn at leading the Bible study or serving on church teams and rotas–leave it for someone else, for whom it is perhaps the work God has given her to do.
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Those vines struck me like a dart to the heart. Since then, I’ve been pruning—my possessions (getting rid of at least one thing a day) and my commitments. I have even been pruning relationships with negative friends, who drag me down and depress me, relationships I had not let go because of sentimentality and familiarity.
The fruitful vine is pruned so that it will be even more fruitful. One of those counter-intuitive truths which run like grace-notes through the Gospels.