Jesus used a parable of the vine and branches to teach His followers how He is the life-giving vine, and believers are merely attached to this vine for its life-sustaining elements (John 15:5). The vinedresser must inspect the plant to see where pruning needs to be done to get the grapes producing the best tasting wine. It’s a process, and it takes the cutting away of branches that are not growing well.

This is how God chooses to illustrate the spiritual growth of His people. It starts with good soil (Luke 8:15). Once the seeds of the vine have taken root in good soil, and the vines begin to grow, the winemaker must inspect the growth to see what needs pruning. Pruning ensures a good balance of mature vines that will produce extra buds for a high yielding crop. It also cuts away the potential for diseased branches that would affect the rest of the vine.

The winemaker always prunes for production first, then the position and shape of the vine for future yield. The process is tedious but necessary. If not done, the vines will grow to be too crowded, not producing enough grapes for a decent crop.

Being the branch on God’s vine is painful, at times. One doesn’t typically see the shears coming, but the effects of the cuts are deeply felt. It is all about root development and establishment. God will cut away the things in one’s life that fail to produce buds to get growth developing into a permanent superstructure. He is looking to see that one’s growth is straight into the good soil, and that the vine ‘arms connect well’ to achieve balance.

Some of the toughest conditions on the vine’s growth occur during winter, when harsh conditions can cause injury. The injuries need to be removed or new growth will be affected. Sometimes a winemaker must remove up to 90% of the year’s previous growth when this happens! If it’s not done, then the injury incurred during harsh conditions could kill the plant entirely. A good winemaker knows pruning is necessary to get the plant to yield as much fruit as possible. The result is worth the effort—a good bottle of wine to enjoy and share with others.

When God’s shears cut into your life, watery tears may flow. It hurts, and it’s difficult to see how this could produce any good thing. Yet knowing your spiritual roots are firmly established in the good soil of faith, you can cling to the fact that God is pruning away the diseased parts of your life. Your spiritual development will not wither and die—He wants you to live! Remember that His first miracle was turning water into wine (John 2:1-11), and He can do that with the bottle of tears His has collected in your life (Ps. 56:8).

Allow His pruning shears to do their work, trusting His word to be true: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28.) The pain and suffering of what you are going through matters to God—it’s not in vain. Allow Him to continue to do His good work in you, knowing that His will is best, even if it’s not what you expected. After all, where else can you go? Only God has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Running away from the process will lead you nowhere.

I’ve been nowhere before, and it’s much worse. Instead, I’m choosing to stay in God’s vineyard, trusting the Vinedresser knows how to work His pruning shears, and believing that my bottle of tears will be turned into a great tasting wine someday.