“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” (John 15:1)

In Japanese culture, the art of growing a Bonsai tree is a lifelong and rewarding experience for the grower. The spectator is also greatly rewarded by the beauty of the tree’s appearance and shape. Each tree is carefully trimmed, pruned, clamped, defoliated, and grafted for the grower’s purpose and delight. The grower carefully removes unnecessary leaves, branches, or needles that hinder its beauty. It can be exacting work, but the results are often stunning.

This is one way to understand how God works in our life: cutting, trimming, and nurturing so that we too can become stunning exemplars of his glory.

So what exactly is God prun­ing in us? He’s cutting off all that opposes his nature. He snips away our inability or stubbornness to forgive. He cuts the justification to hold onto bitterness and resent­ments. He lops off the sin that can run rampant. He trains our thoughts and intentions so that we can think and act like him. And he does it all so that we can live in the freedom that Jesus won for us on the cross.

In the process of removing these things, God also helps us to grow in holiness. He grafts us into his holy family by making us his sons and daughters. He gives us a home and a new purpose for our lives. He clothes us with loving kindness, compassion, and humility. He does everything he can so that we can bear the fruits of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Not only is this pruning process good for us, it is also very reward­ing for God! He absolutely delights in watching us grow into his masterpiece!

The work that God puts into you is a lifelong transforming process. It’s a process of death and rebirth that requires you to yield to the Lord. It’s a process that calls you to take action and to be ready to let go and trust in the goodness of the Lord whenever he asks you to. So be encouraged. God is at work, and he will form you so that his beauty can shine forth in your life!

“Lord, here I am. I’m yours. Prune and mold me into your image to be set apart for your purpose.”

Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122:1-5