The Gardener desires fruit
Faith & Inspiration
by Andrée Seu Peterson
Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, at 11:16 am
In this first unfurling of spring, when my father is out back again finding his trowel and hoe, here are a few thoughts on the Gardener.
The Father is the Gardener, and the implications are spelled out. We are told exactly what He wants. He wants fruit—and lots of it. He will go to great lengths to get it. He is very patient, but if after much lavished attention He does not find a branch to be fruitful, He will cut it off:
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away …” (John 15:2).
You do not want to be “taken away.” That is a very harsh judgment on a human being. As an example of someone who was “taken away,” we have Jacob’s grandson Er:
“But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death” (Genesis 38:7).
We do not know how the Lord put this man to death. Could have been a hunting accident, or an accidental drowning, or an illness. One is not allowed to speak with certainty about which people among us who die untimely deaths are “put to death” by the Lord, but we know for certain that there are some:
“For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
But again, God is very patient and longsuffering before He resorts to that. Scripture describes all the work and care He puts into us. Hebrews 6:7-8 tells us we are each like “land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it.” In response, some of us will “produce a crop useful” and so “receive a blessing from God.” Others will make wretched choices and “bear thorns and thistles” and end up “worthless and near to being cursed.” It’s up to us.
One day the owner of a tree is nearing the end of his patience over an unresponsive tree and is about to cut it down (Luke 13:7-9). He says to the vinedresser: “Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?” The vinedresser pleads for the tree’s life, pleading to give it a little more time and see if it amounts to something: “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”
The parable ends there—unfinished, open-ended, a dangling question. You and I must write the ending ourselves. Will we respond to the pruning God does in our lives to make us more fruitful, or will we not?
“… every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).
The pruning hurts. It is scissors, come on. The pruning is that annoying colleague God has put you next to in order to teach you to love him. Or the job loss He is asking you to trust Him with. Or the humble pie you ate when your pride blew up in your face.
The Gardener wants fruit. And for my money, that’s very good news. It’s good news because that’s what we want too. He gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7). But He will require that we cooperate with His pruning measures. It seems unpleasant at the time, but later yields a harvest of fruit.
Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.