What I Learned From Pruning Tomatoes
A clarifying moment occurred while pruning the neglected tomato plants. The first plant was wild. Branches sprouting off every direction. It was hard to know where to start. When I finally got some of the foliage trimmed back I could clearly see, not one or two sturdy stems, but four spindly stems. They were not robust. I hoped they would still produce fruit. By the end of the row I was a bit discouraged. Grasshoppers had completely demolished the rest of my garden and the tomatoes were the last hope of any harvest this summer. Loads of time and effort had been put into planting and weeding the garden. But the results were pathetic. It was beginning to remind me of my blogs and online businesses. I had invested tons of time, energy and a fair amount of money in this online endeavor and the fruit was scarce.
At the last tomato plant I was rewarded with one sturdy stalk and a fat green tomato. Somehow this plant had escaped the legginess of the others. The branches had woven themselves into the support trellis and the stalk was thick and strong. This is when the quiet whisper of the Lord, which often comes in the form of common sense temporarily forgotten, spoke clearly though inaudible.
“If you would put your attention on one stalk (aka project) and prune away the rest, you too could have a strong center and bear more fruit. See how this plant is firmly connected to the trellis? That’s how you need to be connected to me.”
True words to the core. I had been trying to do too much at once. There was my revelation for kids blog that was going well but being sadly neglected. It was one project I cared deeply about and was supposed to be my priority. In a frantic attempt to build something else to generate income I had embarked on developing an online course for a personal health retreat. It had started off great and I could see the potential. But only the first out of 6 modules was finished after 2 months. Fruitless. I was trying to maintain two blogs and doing a poor job of both. Then I had jumped down another rabbit hole and created an online travel themed store. What was I thinking! There was no way I could take on another new business now. I couldn’t even get my other projects done! Even my main job of mothering my 5 and 11 year olds, homeschooling, and taking care of the household was disintegrating. Yes, I was frustrated, but not focusing my energy in the right place was not helping. I had spread myself too thin and was not accomplishing anything – including keeping the house clean.
Something had to give. Drastic pruning was needed. It was going to hurt. I would take down my “courses coming soon” page and put the online courses on hold. They could be revived – later. The store was coming down as well, immediately. The Revelation for Kids website would be my top priority. The resource sections needed to be completed and readers were waiting for the next set of lessons to come out. I had let them down. I had also been taking courses to learn more about this online business world and I would limit my current coursework to that which would help my revelation website grow. It was hard letting go. It was crazy not too.
I’m a slow learner. It seems to be a pattern. I’m praying to break the cycle. Thankfully God is a patient vinedresser and Jesus, the true vine is solid. If I stick with Him I know the fruit will come. If not, I’ll get burned. These words are the ones I want to impress on my mind as I go through this pruning time.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:1-8
Pruning is painful. It hurts to face the consequences of bad decisions. Even more painful is turning things around and getting them back on course. But as I left the garden there was a lightness in my steps. This could work. It was the right path and it felt refreshing to have razor sharp focus.
Have you faced painful times of pruning in your life? Are there things the Lord is calling you to prune out of your schedule so you can be more fruitful? Share in the comments and let’s support each other as we face this journey of life together.
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