Beloved, have you found yourself in a situation where you feel like you've lost the anointing for everything but the most basic things? Have your inspiration and motivation fled? Do you find yourself questioning everything you ever thought you knew about yourself?
Do you feel like you are in a total tailspin?
If so, I have an encouraging word from the Lord for you today.
In John 15:1-4, Jesus told us this:
“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” (John 15:1-4).
For a few months now, I've been in a season I have called a “bright valley.”
I actually taught on the bright valley–and how to get through it–in this YouTube video below:
The bright valley is a season in which I'm going through a hard time personally, but my faith is strong and I know the Lord is with me. I'm not cast down–hence the “bright” part–but I'm definitely walking through a valley right now.
Well, as I have been seeking the Lord about this, He has helped me understand little bits and pieces of it more and more.
I still feel like I “see through a glass, darkly” about it sometimes, but in His goodness our Father has brought me to a point where I don't have to understand it right now. I just love Him; I can rest in His love; and I trust Him.
Nevertheless, as I have continued to walk through this place myself, I have heard from so many of you that you are also going through the same thing. So both for you and for myself, I have continued to ask the Lord:
- to give me understanding and wisdom;
- to show me anything He needs me to know about this season; and
- to correct me in any way He needs to.
Well, just yesterday, the Lord brought the passage from John 15:1-4 (quoted above) to my mind. And as He did, He showed me clearly that this is a season of pruning.
As I was studying into this “pruning” passage this morning, several things occurred to me:
1. When I prune my bushes and flowers, sometimes I cut them back almost all the way to their rootstock–on purpose.
I think our Father, the original Master Gardener, does this too:
- Sometimes He may cut just a bloom or two off.
- Sometimes He may cut a stray branch off that doesn't fit the overall form (the form of Christ) that He's going for.
- But sometimes, He cuts everything back. Sometimes, He takes us down to our rootstock.
When I talk about the Father cutting everything back, please understand that I never mean He would take away a marriage or cause somebody to die or anything like that. No, the devil is the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy–so if something awful like that has happened to you lately, it wasn't God. Please hear me on this.
But Father God DOES do an inner work of pruning. He does cut everything unnecessary out of our hearts sometimes.
What does it look like when He cuts everything back? Here are some potential examples:
- Almost everything you feel like you're good at suddenly doesn't work anymore.
- Relationships you took pride or confidence in suddenly aren't there anymore (or the people are separated from interacting with you even if the relationship is still intact).
- All your inspiration and motivation to do the things you're usually inspired to do dry up.
- You just can't bring yourself to do anything but rest.
- The spiritual fire you're accustomed to having seems like it's totally gone. You still have a quiet, passionate love for Jesus–in fact, your love for Jesus seems stronger than ever–but the outward fire seems to be gone, replaced with something more private and personal than you've ever had.
When God cuts us back to the rootstock, it feels like everything we knew is gone.
But you know what? Sometimes we need that:
- Sometimes we need to be cut back to the rootstock because we got too dependent on ourselves.
- Sometimes we need to be cut back to the rootstock because we took confidence in our skills and gifts, rather than in God.
- And sometimes we need to be cut back to the rootstock because we got prideful.
But also, sometimes we need to be pruned back to the rootstock because disease had set into our “leaves.” Maybe the diseases of overwork, drive-and-strive, or people pleasing had formed a blight on our leaves.
Or, maybe we had simply bloomed too hard. Maybe we put our heart and soul into blooming, leaving nothing left for foliage and roots. Maybe all the blooming drained our nutrients and energy stores. So, maybe Father prunes us back to our rootstock to give us a break from all that blooming.
No matter which of these are true (if any) for you, know this: Father's ultimate goal in pruning you is to help you bear MORE fruit.
O beloved, you aren't done bearing fruit. Your life cycle isn't over yet–a long way from it. Instead, Father sees that you have been blooming and have borne some fruit, but He wants you to be even more fruitful.
So He's pruning you.
Remember that the flower is never the ultimate goal. Fruit is the ultimate goal, because the fruit not only satisfies but also contains seeds. Producing fruit is the only way plants can reproduce.
We forget that sometimes. However, that leads me to point #2:
2. It's easy to confuse blooms with fruit.
Blooms are so pretty. The blooms of your life, I'm sure, have looked great. People have wondered at how pretty they are, and you've been well-watered to keep those blooms looking fresh.
But you know what I do, as an amateur gardener, when I am after only blooms? I deadhead my flowers. That means I cut the dead flower heads off as soon as they're done looking pretty–even though after they look pretty is when they start maturing their fruit and seeds.
When I'm after blooms, I deadhead those flowers so they can't go to seed. I only want them to keep blooming. But you know what? That's the opposite of what Father wants for us.
Father wants us to produce FRUIT.
He loves it when we bloom and look pretty, of course. What Father wouldn't? But looking pretty is not His ultimate goal.
His ultimate goal is to form us into the image of Christ. His ultimate goal is to produce fruit in us. His ultimate goal is to see us reproduce; for our fruit to produce mature seeds that bring more of His children into the Kingdom.
And oh my friend, sometimes that's a hard place to get to.
When our blooms fade and we start producing fruit, there's nothing pretty for anybody to look at. We don't even see the beauty in ourselves. But Father–our good, precious, holy, kind, loving, merciful Father–He sees.
And He helps us along the way, so we can bear more fruit …
… Even when His help requires Him to prune us back to the rootstock so we can heal, grow differently, and produce more fruit.
So beloved, if you are in a season in which nothing is working anymore:
- If the things you're usually good at aren't working very well right now;
- If your motivation and inspiration have disappeared;
- If you feel like your anointing has flown the coop;
- If even the holy things in which you used to take pleasure and delight are no longer fun for you …
Then beloved, know this:
It is a season of pruning. You are safe in Father's hands. You have borne fruit, but Father wants you to bear even more fruit–which is what you want too.
And even though you might not have chosen or wanted Him to use this particular method of pruning, Father has you in His hands and is taking care of you.
It's all with a purpose:
- He is growing you.
- He is cleansing you.
- He is bringing you back to your first love for Him.
- He is teaching you how to abide in His LOVE only–not in your giftings, skill levels, anointings, or relationships.
- He is helping you to reach both His and your ultimate goal, which is to glorify Jesus.
- He is drawing you closer to Jesus throughout this season.
- He is renewing your dependence on Him; for without Jesus you can do nothing.
It's all with a purpose. You may feel like you're in a tailspin, but actually you've just been pruned.
You're safe in Father's hands. He's protecting you while you rest. His love will sustain you both now and forevermore. And one day, you will bear fruit again–more fruit than you have ever borne before.
Beloved, do you find yourself in a season of pruning right now? Have you been cut all the way back to the rootstock? If so, leave a comment below!