“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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, John 15:1-4, HCSB.
Our dentist is a great guy, but that did not make it any easier. After a perfect rack record for over thirty years—I got my first cavity. And not just one—an undiagnosed physical condition had caused deterioration in my teeth, and now it needed to be fixed. I was not looking forward to the appointment, but I knew I had to go. A trip to my primary care physician had revealed the problem, medication was prescribed and monitored, and now it was time to correct the cavities and restore my smile.
The dentist worked carefully. He numbed my mouth, and then he removed the decay with a drill. He cleaned the tooth, dried it, applied epoxy and the filling material. He set it, heated it, smoothed the rough edges and voila! My teeth were clean, filled and ready for use again. No pain; no more decay. The dentist had cut away the decay and put a filling in its place.
God the Father works like the dentist in our spiritual lives. He prunes away the decay of old habits and traditions to allow us to grow in a different direction. He fills those gaps in our spiritual walk with new things that will make us effective and useful in new ministries. He works carefully, removing only what is necessary, and making sure the decay in our spiritual life is completely cut away. He replaces it with spiritual growth and fruit. He smoothes the rough edges in our character, and makes it possible for us to smile again. Going through the process is not enjoyable, but the results of a stronger faith and effective ministry to God’s glory make it all worthwhile.
Thought-provoker: Are there areas of decay in your life that need pruning? Are you allowing God to grow and change you, or are you holding onto spiritual cavities?
Lord, please fill my life with the good things, and allow me to give up the things that are causing gaps in my spiritual life. Please don’t allow me to hold onto my spiritual cavities! Amen.