"You know how loaded with baby peaches our trees were?" my Mom asked as we were walking between rows of fruit trees at a local farm. My parents' trees were full of tiny peaches waiting to ripen.
"Yeah," I said. "Why?"
"I filled two buckets -- like full to the brim -- with little peaches yesterday."
"You WHAT? You took them off?"
"I know," she laughed, "I wasn't going to but then I read that when the trees get full like that you need to take some fruit out."
I kind of stared at her, trying to figure out why anyone would take precious fruit off a finally-bearing tree.
Last year there were no peaches, and it was a big disappointment. A few years ago the two trees had produced loads of amazingly juicy, flavorful peaches and we'd been hoping to have a similar crop the following years. But, so far not so good. And now Mom took off two buckets full of potentially-delicious peaches.
When fruit trees grow big and their branches expand and multiply, it's beneficial to prune them back and remove some of the branches. That much made sense; my parents had removed branches and honed in on the sturdy, productive ones to help the tree continue to grow.
Turns out when there are too many baby peaches on a peach tree some need to be taken out -- enough so that there are about six inches between peaches. This allows the tree to focus its energy on the remaining fruit and not be spread too thin.
With fewer peaches to nourish, the tree can produce beautiful, juicy, flavorful peaches instead of a bunch of watery ones. Take away some seemingly good ones and you get a much better yield.
“I (Jesus) 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." John 15:1-2
When we think of pruning we often think of cutting off branches, pairing down to some main ones. We don't always think about further pruning the parts that stay (unless you're a farmer, then this concept isn't lost on you!). Removing fruit from the branches that remain seems counter intuitive; why take away fruit that could have a chance to mature and become good?
I wonder how often we overlook God's pruning process in our own lives. It's not something that's always front-and-center in our minds, and it doesn't necessarily need to be -- but maybe we miss some of His leading in that regard.
There are times we see the big things He wants to get rid of or re-prioritize; a ministry we should let go of or move in a different direction, weekly appointments that have run their course and are free to come to an end, etc. But what about the smaller things, the things that seem even more beneficial and fruitful? The things that we can't fathom getting rid of or re-prioritizing, because they bless others immensely and seem to have a great impact?
It's not for me to determine for you; it's something to handle carefully, prayerfully. God gives many good things and our lives can be filled with good fruit, which is wonderful. I encourage you to spend some time praying about the fruit in your life and asking for His guidance and wisdom.
Maybe it all stays for this season, or maybe something needs to end or be passed on to someone else. Even when it looks like there's an abundance of fruit that we desperately want to see into harvest -- maybe we cut back and thin out. Keeping our hands open and not clinging too tightly to even the good things allows for more fruit to be borne and matured.
The True Vine
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 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.
5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another."
John 15:1-17, taken from BibleGateway.com.