I have several muscadine vines in my backyard that I planted 7 years ago. When I planted them they were not much more than 3 foot in length and just looked like a stick with roots. Over the first couple of years the vines had to be trained in a certain way to allow the vine to produce larger yields and to receive proper air flow to prohibit disease. Sometimes that required me to break off the offshoot near the base of the vine so that I could get a thick and healthy trunk for the vine. (Doesn’t God have to break off some extra offshoots from our lives sometimes so that our base grows stronger in Him?)
After the vines got old enough they started producing a small amount of fruit. Muscadines are a little different from your standard grape vine in that they only produce fruit off of the new one-year-old growth from the branches. So if a new branch grows this year it will produce fruit next year from that new growth but it will not produce fruit in that same section next year. A new branch or offshoot can can grow fairly quickly in a year, sometimes several feet. But to maintain proper air flow for your vine is important to prevent disease and to continue to get high yields. Each year you have to prune back that new growth to a manageable level.
So, depending on the weather each year (usually in February after most truly hard freezes occur) I have to prune back the muscadine vine’s new growth to only about two segments on each new branch. A segment is a section where you see a bud on each of the new branches.
As my young vines grew over the past several years this process of pruning sometimes was a little painful. Because the new growth of the branches oftentimes was as large as the original branches coming off of the vine. I would look at the cut branches laying on the ground and it would feel like I had just destroyed my muscadine vine that put on so much new growth during the Spring. I was sad that I had to cut off this growth that would have doubled the size of my vines, because I had waited many years to start seeing high yields of fruit. It pains me to do the cutting even though I know it is best for the future of the vine and remaining branch base.
Each year when I do the pruning I think of the parable in John 15. “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 it so that it may bear more fruit. ”
I can’t ask my muscadine vine how it feels when I prune the branches. But I do know this; the branch weeps where it has been cut. This is part of the healing process for the branch and it protects it from disease. This too is often true for us when God prunes things from our lives. We may weep, and that’s okay, it’s part of the healing process.
Certainly as God prunes us, He is doing it for our good and the good of the vine so that we are healthy and produce more fruit. If He is like me it may pain Him to prune the branches, but He knows it is for our good.
John 15:1-2, 5-6 NASB “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 it so that it may bear more fruit. ”
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.’