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an unpruned, pitiful apple tree in our neighborhood

The Importance of Spiritual Pruning

 

 

an unpruned, pitiful apple tree in our neighborhood
an unpruned, pitiful apple tree in our neighborhood

 

About half of this tree’s branches have completely broken in the past few years. You can see some hanging down that are broken and some big branches on the ground, and you can see how messed up the shape of the tree is toward the top half because of all the broken limbs.

Some interesting tidbits about How to Prune an Apple Tree – at www.weekendgardner.net

As you read these pruning tips, please be thinking about how God desires to prune us spiritually and why He does this…

1. Goals and Timing

There are normally two goals when pruning an apple tree:
Initially on young trees to encourage a strong, solid framework

On mature trees to maintain shape and encourage fruit production
The best time to prune apple trees is in late winter or very early spring before any new growth starts.

This entire article blessed me as I thought about the comparisons to pruning a tree vs God pruning our souls. Check it out if you have time, and think about how it relates to God pruning us like He talks about in John 15. You can also see images of properly pruned trees. They look very different from this one above!

Here is a pic of this same apple tree from this past spring:

 

IMG_3961

A discussion between the Peacefulwife and The JoyFilled Wife (for more of her story, please click here)…

TheJoyFilledWife:

You and I have had some great conversations lately about how God has used the absence of others to lead us to rely completely on Him, haven’t we? I think, when it all comes down to it, God wants us to see that He is more than enough. That He is able to fill every longing and every void in our hearts.

If our husband, children, friends, and family, were all to die tomorrow, our life would not be any less complete. We would be heartbroken, and understandably so, but our actual needs in life would not be forfeited. That’s something that the Lord has shown me much of lately. Spending nearly all of my marriage winning my husband without a word and truly not being able to rely on him to meet most of my needs and longings, the Lord was so faithful to show me that

My marital poverty was an opportunity for spiritual abundance.

I can say from experience that Jesus is more than enough. He is my first and truest love. I wouldn’t trade my relationship with my Savior for even the most perfect of marriages. I would rather live desolate than to never know the love of my Savior.

I was listening to a sermon yesterday by Dr. David Jeremiah. I couldn’t keep my eyes dry. He is so spot on regarding God’s purpose for pain and suffering in our lives. We must choose to look at every seeming deficit in our lives as a blessing in disguise. When God prepares us for greater things, He must strip us of the lesser. He is pruning us so that we may bear greater fruit for His Kingdom. Without that pruning, we would wither away and die. The storms of life are meant to expose our weaknesses so that we may strengthen them and build a stronger foundation. Without the trials and storms of life, we would never see the areas of our live that are disintegrating.

May we rejoice in our sufferings and the times when Jesus graciously tells us “no” so that He can say “yes” to something so much greater and more worthwhile.

Peacefulwife:

Thank you so much for sharing this. How I pray we might all cultivate this holy perspective about our trials and the obstacles and problems we face. I have experienced this, too. Having no mentors and feeling very alone in my marriage in the beginning years of this journey taught me to only look to God to meet my needs. I am thankful for that now!

There is an apple tree near a school in our neighborhood that has never been pruned. I think of how God prunes us as believers and how very important the pruning process (sanctification) is every time I see that tree. In the late summer, the tree is so loaded with fruit that the long unpruned branches begin to bend and bow over until many of them break completely off of the tree every year. The poor tree looks wretched! I can’t help but wonder what it would look like and how much more fruit it could bear if it were pruned properly by someone who knew what he/she was doing.

TheJoyFilledWife:

Some family members of mine have several fruit trees in their yard. It’s quite costly to keep them pruned and they are far too busy to care about doing it themselves. Every time I visit, I can’t believe how tiny the fruit are that grow on those trees. They are puny. If the trees were pruned properly, there would be large, ripe fruit growing there and the branches would be able to sustain the harvest. The puny, overly ripe fruit is completely useless. It never develops the proper texture or flavor to be pleasurable to eat. How similarly our lives are when we refuse to let go of the useless, worldly things in our life that choke our ability to ever be used for God’s pleasure and glory. If only we would stop resisting God’s faithful pruning and let go and let God, we would be amazed at the beauty of the fruit He develops in our lives.

 

THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES John 15:

 

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

 

THE PURPOSE OF ADVERSITY IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Hebrews 12:4-12

 I Peter 1:3-9

 

photo 2-6

47 thoughts on “The Importance of Spiritual Pruning

  1. This could not have come at a better time for me, really. It’s wonderful how God works, always when you need Him❤
    Thank you for the post April!
    Thanks All wives for your input

    My prayer is God will strip us all of anything in our hearts coming before Him, so we will replace it with our one true love, Him. Even though it’s hard at times I am so thankful our God is a jealous God! I am so thankful for this community of believers, great wives, and sisters in Christ!

    1. Learningwife,

      I love this.

      I’m so glad that God used this post to bless you. I really do wish I could quote the whole apple pruning article. 🙂 It was so good!

      Yes, AMEN! I also pray with you that God would remove anything that would prohibit us from growing strong and being healthy in Christ and that we may be purely and wholeheartedly devoted to Christ, loving Him with everything we have and all that we are, delighting in Him alone.
      Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for this encouraging post, April.

    Sometimes when we are in the middle of severe testing, we don’t immediately see any signs of blessings, but on the other end of it, God’s purposes and blessings become crystal clear and quite remarkable. I have found that to be so at times. The thing to do is to consider it, think of it, or trust it to be a blessing and hang on and wait for hope to return and cling to God.

    When I was in my thirties I suddenly faced breast cancer. I had been pretty sheltered most of my life, and such a test was completely overwhelmingly frightening. It was one of my greatest nightmares come true. A godly woman told me that one day I would see how God could bless me thru that storm, but not when I was in the thick of it, in the early days when it was all hitting me at once.

    I couldn’t even imagine at the time that it could be so, but it has become one of the spiritual markers in my life and it brought with the pain, blessings upon blessings, so rich I can’t even express.

    The trials we face currently, make us stronger to face the unknown trials of the future, too.

    1. Julie,

      Wow! Thank you so much for sharing about your experience with breast cancer. This makes me cry happy tears of joy at how good our God is!

      LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!

      You are such a blessing!

    2. Thank you for sharing that, Julie! That would be such a painful experience to go through and to know that God used it to bless you….and that you are thankful for the experience……I find that so encouraging!

  3. I thank God for the support system here….April it has been a God sent….and I thank God that you allowed Him to prune you to set an example for us to follow…He is and all sufficient God!….I have been listening to this SONG for the past couple of days…it’s called

    “Through It All” by Andre Crouch…https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GPI35MohOKU…..and seeing this post only strengthen me further to keep on persevering. Love you my Precious Sisters in Christ….these are the words of the song….

    ANDRAE CROUCH
    Through It All Lyrics

    I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
    I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
    there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
    But in every situation,
    God gave me blessed consulation,
    that my trials come to only make me strong.

    Chorus:
    Through it all,
    through it all,
    I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
    I’ve learned to trust in God.

    Through it all,
    through it all,
    I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

    Verse 2:
    I’ve been to lots of places,
    I’ve seen a lot of faces,
    there’s been times I felt so all alone.
    But in my lonely hours,
    yes, those precious lonely hours,
    Jesus lets me know that I was His own

    Chorus

    Verse 3:
    I thank God for the mountains,
    and I thank Him for the valleys,
    I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
    For if I’d never had a problem,
    I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
    I’d never know what faith in God could do.
    Correct these lyrics
    these lyrics are submitted by kaan

    Songwriter(s): Andrae Crouch
    Copyright: Manna Music Inc.
    Official lyrics powered by

      1. Thank you April and Julie….I am just blown away by how God works…was just looking up a song on YouTube I wanted to listen to….and came across this new 3 minute message by TD Jakes….HE TALKED ABOUT US AS WIVES TRIMMING AWAY SOME OF THE THINGS AND ATTITUDES IN OUR LIVES…TO SUBMIT AS GOD WOULD HAVE IT TO OUR HUSBANDS…SO THAT THERE WOULD BE ORDER AND GOD’s MISSION WOULD BE FULFILLED….WOW WOW WOW…I think it is a recent message…..this part is only THREE MINUTES long….

        The Ultimate Sacrifice | T. D. Jakes

        https://m.youtube.com/?reload=7&rdm=18oc9k5e6#/watch?v=xph16lAXlJs

        The series is called the ultimate sacrifice….it adresses marriage…planning to listen to the full when I get the time.

        Wow…God is so Good!….as He said…”Taste and see that The Lord is Good!!!!….Blessed is the man that trusts in Him!

        Love you my precious Sisters….I thank God for each and every one of you!

  4. Princess, thank you for the reminder of that song. What a great one. I used to listen to it on cassette tape and the whole ” album” was a blessing.

  5. Elizabeth,

    Dear sister in Christ, if you are out there, I want you to know I have had you on my heart and in my prayers so many times in the last couple of days. The things you shared in the comments section a couple of posts ago made it clear you have really been hurting. I wondered how your singing went on Sunday and if you’re feeling encouraged. Sending you a warm hug and continuing to pray.

  6. Hello Ladies!

    What was the sermon titled you were listening to yesterday from DR. David Jeremiah? Is there a way we can listen to it as well?! Also, I have been so encouraged by your post, do you have a blog or facebook page we can follow?

    Thanks for your hearts!

    1. Aubrie,

      Yes, you absolutely can listen to Dr. Jeremiah’s sermon I was listening to. My husband listens to him pretty much every day and recommends his sermons to me often. He is a very gifted, precise, and sound teacher.

      I believe the one I listened to was from September 2nd. It was one in a series called “A Bend In The Road.” You can listen to the one that goes before that on September 1st as well. Here are the instructions to listen:

      -Go to: http://www.davidjeremiah.org
      -Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and under the title “Radio” click on “Archives and Schedules”.
      -Find the sermon from September 1st and September 2nd called “A Bend In The Road” and click on the speaker button to listen instantly.

      I do not have a blog at this time and probably won’t for quite a while. My husband has been very gracious to allow (and encourage) me to guest blog, but having a blog of my own would take up much more time than I have available right now. I’m so blessed to be able to be here to support women like Lori and April as they desire. They are a gift!

      1. Thanks for the reply! Well, I will just have to be encouraged from you when you guest blog here! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us!

  7. Just about every morning I pray that God will prune me, and turn me into the person that he wants me to be. But then when I encounter even the smallest little bump in the road, I completely forget about my prayers and quickly get frustrated. I need to lay on my face before Jesus every moment in order to keep a good perspective on things.

    Thank you so much for this reminder. God is definitely nudging me here. 🙂

  8. I feel like all the pruning is happening on MY tree.

    My husband is loving life lately. He is getting way more action in the bedroom, so much less complaining from me and getting his way in pretty much everything from controlling the remote to what we do on the weekends.

    Here is the problem. It seems like the more I do, the more he expects! Seriously, he is not even appreciating the new things now because they are becoming the new normal. He just asks me to do more. Today I got new brakes on the car, called the repair service for our air conditioner, dealt with the repairman, ordered new air filters, made dinner and he went out with his friends. I have 3 children ages 4-10years.

    Just feeling frustrated the past few days. He is a “command man” and whenever he has felt disrespected in our 15 years of marriage, he never hesitated to let me know. I am the oldest child and have strong opinions and have always stood my ground in things I thought I needed to until a few months ago when I gave up control.

    I do appreciate all he does and I know these are small things. But sometimes the small things add up and wear me down like drops of water on a rock.

    Feeling discouraged.

    I have been about 80% respectful for the past 3 months. Our fights have hugely decreased, we do have more intimacy. there are positives. But man, I am tired. And soon I’m worried I’ll have to cut and pre chew his food for him! LOL

    Just looking for someone who can relate to me! I really feel like having a big fight tonight to clear the air. That is how things used to work for us.

    Sorry for this post. ugh

    Amy

    1. Amy,

      It is ok to say that you are feeling overloaded or stressed. It is ok to say you really need a bit of time to yourself to relax. It is ok to ask about what you can take off of your plate or delegate.

      You can thank him for what he is doing and appreciate him AND tell him you are feeling run down lately and ask what he might suggest.

      I have a feeling, you may get what you want if you ask respectfully and you don’t have to have a big fight!
      Much love!
      April

    2. Hey Amy…was just about to say the same thing April said….you could check out April’s video on YouTube called “How To Ask Our Husbands For Things So They Want To Say Yes”. Don’t be quiet and silent and then feel fustrated inside….being respectful does not mean that you do not speak…it means you do so in a respectful…well toned manner. Remember to thank him too for every thing that he does..so there is a balance to it…look for his strengths and the good in him…and praise him…he will be encouraged to do better. Being respectful also includes using our influential authority. Remember too that the most important thing is motive…you’re not doing this to get something back ….you are obeying Christ when you do….constantly staying in tune with God helps you to keep focused….make sure to get plenty of sleep too…and eat well….feeling tired and moody would not help either with the respect part….not to mention all the increase in negative emotions when we’re tired. Hang in there…we all have been there at different points in our lives. Your Sister in Christ…P

    3. You can have strength and even some spunk and still be respectful and not controlling. I betcha one of the things your husband was drawn to when he chose you was the fact that you do have strengths from being the oldest in your family. Don’t assume he is purposely taking advantage of the new you if you haven’t made it clear what you are struggling with. :^) Assume the best intentions on his part……

      Praying for you, Amy.

    4. Amy, It sounds like you are becoming an excellent helper to your husband and with an overall great attitude! That is fantastic! I would NOT expect your husband to acknowledge these great things you are doing, especially at this point so early in your journey. If I recall correctly, April has some articles on her blog about how many husbands will generally not acknowledge our positive changes as we begin to strive to be respectful wives. (April, would you be able to give a link?) I think from our husband’s point of view, we are only doing what we should have been doing all along, and I suppose most men are just wired differently than us women! So, you can come here to Peacefulwife, and WE will cheer you on in all the progress you are making! 🙂

      I would reserve judgement as to whether your husband is going to take advantage of your new willingness to follow his leadership. In making the changes you have made in yourself, the old routine has been disrupted for the better, and new norms are not yet in place. He is likely “testing the waters” with these changes to see if they are real in you, and that is ok. The dust has not settled. He, too, will be learning to adapt to the new changes, and it is possible he will also make mistakes along the way. Try to be patient with him and show him the same grace as God is showing you as you sometimes stumble and fall in this respect journey.

      So, at this point, if at all possible, I would not hold back in your heart in your willingness to serve him. I would try to follow what he is asking as much as possible at this point. At three months into my respect journey, I think my own command man husband would have taken my appeals to be asked for less to do for him as criticism of his judgement in leadership. It doesn’t sound like he is asking anything unreasonable, but you know yourself and your limits best. The other ladies have given some good advice on how to appeal if/when you truly need relief. DO make it a priority to take care of yourself each day. Try to focus on the great work God is performing in YOUR life, rather than on what He does not appear to be doing in your husband’s heart yet, and that may breathe wind back in your sails to keep persevering through this difficult part of the journey. You never know–if your husband ultimately has good will toward you, over time, as he sees you consistently, earnestly and joyfully doing all that he is asking, this may be key to him hearing the Holy Spirit’s call on his own heart! Right now, don’t expect him to act as if he has. We don’t know what is going on in his heart, and God has his own timing. It’s a good sign that your husband is responding positively to what has taken place so far!

      PLEASE do not have that argument tonight that your flesh wants to have. Don’t lose the ground you have gained so far! Your self control in this will be rewarded!
      I know and understand about the remote, and who generally decides how weekends are spent, and being a firstborn myself, and all the little things. They are part of my life each day too! But, I choose not to give them power over my peace. (I’m not always successful, but I am getting better at catching the “poor me” attitude and nipping it in the bud before it gets out of control!) These are the very things God is using to refine me, to learn to love unconditionally, and to mold me into the best help meet for the husband He gave me! These are the greater treasures! They aren’t developed through ease, but through sacrifice and surrender, so it isn’t fun while you are going through the pruning, but in the end, you will reap a bountiful harvest!

      Stay strong in the Lord, sister! HE is your strength!

      -HisHelper

  9. Hey Amy,
    Maybe read The Surrendered Wife, chapter 4, Take Care of Yourself First…you could also try saying, “I can’t. ” One strategy that works in the workplace when “they” are trying to work you to death is to list all the tasks and then go back to your boss (in your case, Mr. Command Man) and ask for guidance on how to prioritize. “Yes, dear, I love you so much and would be happy to help you out as I can…which of these would you like me to do this week: new brakes on the car, call the repair service for our air conditioner, deal with the repairman, order new air filters or make dinner?” Just an idea…take what you need and leave the rest. Hang in there, girl!

    1. Marked Wife,

      I like the idea of asking her hubby to help her prioritize, delegate or eliminate some things on her to do list.

      The I can’t thing – in my view, would be something to use if a husband was asking a wife to do something truly dangerous or harmful. Ie: help him lift a very heavy piece of furniture when she is very pregnant, go run a marathon without proper preparation, etc…

      And, it is five to ask for what we need and want. The trick is, if they say no. We don’t scream and throw things. We prayerfully ask God for wisdom and options and strength.

      Much love!
      April

  10. April, this post reminds me of one of my favorite verses, Psalm 116:7 – “Be at rest, once more, oh my soul, for The Lord has been good to you.” Always true, no matter our circumstances – because we always have God’s ultimate goodness – his forgiveness and his love for us :).

  11. “God wants us to see that He is more than enough. That He is able to fill every longing and every void in our hearts.”

    That’s excellent–great testimony. 🙂

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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