red maple tree under white sky during daytime

, | 17 Nov 2020 | by GEM

Too Many Buds?

by Gabe Bernal

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2, ESV)

When lockdown in England began, we were allowed some time to exercise each day. I, like many others, took this opportunity to start walking regularly. Even it if was only to get outside for some fresh air for 30 minutes.

As time went on and restrictions started to be eased, we were allowed to begin visiting parks as part of a small group (but still socially distanced!). Late in the spring lockdown, I went to a nearby park I had never been to before with a couple of friends. As we were walking down one of the trails, I noticed we passed several plants with little buds of blackberries.

Even though there were several buds on each plant, none of them grew to a size I was familiar with at the grocery store. One of my friends observed it was because they are wild and were not pruned.

Any plant that bears fruit when it is pruned, the remaining fruit will grow larger and fuller.

This is an idea that I’m sure many of us are familiar with, but if you’re anything like me, you struggle with pruning in your life. Adding is easy, I feel like I had become an expert in adding or trying out a new spiritual practice or discipline in my life, but I found it much harder to intentionally stop or subtract.

But I noticed, if I just keep adding to what I do, all of a sudden I will be too busy doing and no time actually bearing fruit! I had a mentor that once told me that “if everything is important, then nothing is important.” Like all those plants bearing blackberries, they sprang so many buds that each individual one was tiny and wouldn’t sustain in a meaningful way.

So as I emerged from the initial lockdown, I decided I needed to have a talk with God and really begin to look at what needed to be pruned. That’s not an easy process, being pruned. My eyes see all the fruit buds growing. I imagine the potential they can grow into, so I hold on tight and don’t want to let go.

Yet God gently reminds me that if I cut away a few of those disciplines, if I refocus on specific practices, only then will I see that fruit grow into its potential. Instead of several little buds, I’ll have huge sprouts blossoming and growing into fruit that individually will yield more than all the others would have combined.

In Christ, Gabe Bernal

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (John 15:8, ESV)

  1. Where in your life and ministry do you see yourself not yielding as much fruit as you would like?
  2. Are there times where you feel like you are “doing” too much?
  3. Where in your life can you prune and refocus with the goal of bearing more fruit?