As I prune the dead leaves off my fresh mint plant, I am reminded of how often God uses nature to make us reflect on our lives. The sweet smell surrounds me; the more I work, the stronger the scent. I can hear my daughter counting acorns on the ground, smiling all the while. The fall breeze finally rewarding me for not forsaking my home state during Texas summertime. With each crunchy leaf that falls to the ground, I am reminded of the blessing of loss; Missed opportunities. Closed doors, Broken friendships. To a mere mortal human, looking back can be tough–downright depressing. But, when you have a relationship with Jesus, reflecting on the past allows you to grow and become who God intended you to be.
Jesus said: “I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.
Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” John 15 : 1-2 AMP
My sweet little mint plant doesn’t miss the crunchy stems and broken leaves. But, at times, I miss my old friends. I miss drinking beer. I miss the chance I had to change my major to something I liked, but I was too afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford more school. At the end of the day, I don’t really miss all the things I thought I did because I am thankful for what I have now. There isn’t enough time in a day to focus on what I could have done differently; the risks I should have taken and mistakes I made along the way have already been forgiven. The people I no longer see are gone for a reason, and I am better off because of it. The doors that were closed that I didn’t force open was God guiding me in a different direction. After all of the broken and useless leaves are gone, what’s left is a beautiful and useful plant that will continue to grow and prosper because it is not being held back by what was dead and unproductive.
“You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you].
Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.
I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” John 15: 3-5
A newly pruned plant will grow happily, but a newly pruned person can take a long time to readjust to what it feels like to let go and accept forgiveness. Denying forgiveness denies what was already paid for with the blood of Jesus. If you have already accepted Christ, there is nothing you did in the past that wasn’t covered by His blood by the grace and mercy of God.
“If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love [you as] its own and would treat you with affection. But you are not of the world [you no longer belong to it], but I have chosen you out of the world. And because of this, the world hates you.” John 15: 18-19
Times may be hard, but not only did Jesus pay the price to that we could live free from guilt and shame, but he has already faced greater trials, greater hatred, and greater emptiness. For that moment on the cross when he cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me?” He experienced every single ounce of pain that the world may ever feel; not only physical pain but the pain of being far away from God.
As I reflect on my “God-moment” while pruning this mint plant, and watching my tiny human run and play, I am filled with a reminder of my purpose. My purpose isn’t to pay bills, get an excellent job, and own my dream home: it’s to share Jesus with those around me. The fruit that we bear doesn’t come in the form of money and nice things, in fact, we may never see those things in this world. The fruit we bear is the light of Jesus reflecting onto those around us. If we are truly living in His love and His joy, we are producing the fruit God destined us to bear.
“When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [ continue in His love with Me].
If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.
I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.
This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.
No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” John 15: 8-13