Spring officially began last week. I feel the warmer breezes, I have started my annual search for green shoots poking up from the dirt, and I hear the squawks of the Canada geese as they fly back to the pond. Sure-fire signs of spring that don’t require a calendar.
I happily shake off winter’s sluggishness and muster the energy required for spring’s preparations, planting, and pruning. I can’t wait to grab my shears and head to our patch of grapevines.
These vines came from my grandparent’s home in River Rouge. So did my grandmother’s hydrangea bush and some of her Iris rhizomes that you’ll see in my flower beds. When my grandfather died, I wanted to bring something from their home to plant on our farm to create memory gardens. Anyone who visits the farm and has the time to walk among the flower beds hears story after story about these incredible grandparents and the joy I had spending time with them.
But the grapevines baffle me every year. I have the best intentions to prune them at precisely the right moment, but my timing has been wrong every year. I cut them too early one year, and a late frost damaged the buds. The following year I must have waited too long; March marched me right past the grapevines and into the fields, readying them for crops. All the month-by-month gardening books and YouTube channels can’t keep me on target.
There is never quite enough spring on the farm to spread around my gardens and fields.
I hope I can get the timing right this year – yet.
As I survey that tangled mess of overgrown vines, I hardly know where to begin. They have become unruly and unproductive from the years of neglect. That’s what happens when we suffer from the “I’ll get to it later” syndrome.
Grapevines and life can become a tangled mess when we fail to pay attention and invest some effort in them. Pruning allows sunlight and air to flow, giving vines the chance to flourish. And pruning is essential in our lives, too. Yet I have often overcrowded my life with good works, thinking that was what I needed – and was expected – to do. And consequently, I became unproductive, too busy to notice or even care that I was floundering.
Never enough, nor good enough…sigh… Have you felt that way?
I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable of the vineyard: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2, NLT). Christ wasn’t just talking about grapevines; He was talking about us, comparing the tangles to our lives and our service to God’s kingdom here on earth.
Just as I prune the vines to obtain maximum yield, I need to stay connected to the Vine so I will grow in a way that glorifies God. My best efforts to achieve anything outside the will of God is only an attempt to praise myself, not my Lord. Jesus explained, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV).
Abiding in Him, untangling vines – messes and over-commitments in my life can only be accomplished through a relationship with Jesus. I need more prayer, more worship, and more study of His Word. And I need fewer over-commitments.
I want to produce the fruit found only through the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).
Now, where are those pruning shears and lobbers? It’s time to get to work! This is the season for my flowers and vines to grow – and this is the season to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.