The Master Gardener

August 26, 2016

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1

My grandfather had a garden where he grew, bananas, plantains, coconuts, oranges, mandarins, limes, cinnamon, and cloves. He sold the fruits for a profit. As a teenager, I helped my him to tend his garden. Near the house there was an orange tree, planted by my grandfather’s mother, whose sweet and juicy oranges were only for our consumption.

During the harvest – February through April – my grandmother often sent me to get oranges from that tree. I climbed it and got as many oranges as I could, which she used to prepare a delicious orange juice! I was usually fascinated by the bright yellow and orange peel of the oranges. One time, I fell from the tree while trying to grab the largest orange I had ever seen. It was about the size of a softball!

I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly some type of ivy covered the tree. Maybe we did not see it coming because the previous year we enjoyed tasteful, succulent oranges. That season the tree barely produced oranges. It was literally dying. The ivy was sucking out its life.


My grandfather called Julio García to clean it. Julio was a peasant who did a lot of work at the garden. He was a joker and I enjoyed hanging out around him. That day, Julio with monkey-like skills climbed all over the tree and meticulously removed the ivy and pruned the tree. He did the work of an artist.

I observed how he, with surgical precision, trimmed branch after branch. Several hours later, Julio climbed down and said, “It’s ready.”  “Yeah,” I thought, “you’ve destroyed it, there is no tree anymore.” He left only a few branches. But something surprising was about to happen.

During November and December, the tree was full of little white flowers. And, needless to say, when the harvest came, every single branch was copiously filled with first-rate oranges. I was mesmerized by the view. The tree came back to life and its harvest was plentiful. The master gardener had done his job.

Like the ivy was killing the tree, there are things deep in our hearts that suck out our life and make us fruitless. The Master Gardener loves us so much that He is unwilling to leave us that way. Consequently, followers of Jesus must go through pruning seasons. We should expect the Master Gardener to prune our lives now and then. He must do some painful work and remove whatever limits our fruitfulness – possessions, attachments, habits, thought processes, and so on.

Denise and I have experienced many of God’s pruning periods. And we know God must prepares us as we join His mission and proclaim “God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life.”

Prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalms 139:23). Father God prune me please. I am willing to endure the pain. I am willing to go through this if it will bring glory to your name.”


Juan and Denise

Newly Appointed Missionaries to Chiapas Mexico

They will be speaking at the Gathering in September

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