Read John 15:1-17

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the  word I have spoken to you.  John 15:2-3

It’s comforting to know that I am “already clean” because Jesus says so. Can I say, that tends to smooth the edge of the “pruning” part? Better yet, I can genuinely welcome that pruning. I am not much of a gardener, but in recent years I have taken more of an interest in the care and nurture of plants, shrubs, and flowers, both inside and out. It's been awesome to observe that pruning doesn’t necessarily mean a plant gets bigger. More often it means the plant gets heartier in the middle; denser; meatier and yes, stronger at the root. New growth spouts from within, close to the stalk or trunk making it more stable, able to endure harsh elements and even able to live longer when water is scarce…..hmmmm. A heartier plant even gives off more oxygen!

Who welcomes pruning and discipline? Jesus prunes because He loves us. It’s always for OUR growth, strength and impact. His pruning produces joy; joy for us and ultimately joy for those around us. And, even better, it’s always to HIS glory! We can genuinely welcome, even desire pruning from the Master Gardener. We can literally desire exposure of sin and a prompting to repent and change course as often as He sees fit. He's with us and the source of strength for that part too! Win-Win!

Lord, soften my heart to embrace Your pruning as You intend it and as often as You see fit. Slow me down enough to hear Your voice and respond in humility and willing repentance, excitedly expectant that I will emerge stronger at my core, not bigger; able to endure the tough stuff; filled with joy, Your joy; and more equipped to impact everyone You place in my path.  Make me a source of “more oxygen!” To You, Great Gardener, be ALL the glory, honor, and praise. Amen.

— Kerri Cole, First Impressions + Nursery Team  /  Murrysville Campus