DEALING WITH A DISAPPOINTMENT 
FRUIT OR FOLIAGE [inner life or outward life?]
John15:2 ‘My Father is the vinedresser, you are the branches. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it produces more fruit’.
Another disappointment for me this year has been in the gardens where I work, and yet again it has been the weather that has caused the problem. I tend two grapevines at my regular job at Stratford upon Avon [white and black grapes]! I have to say despite the poor weather, they have produced an abundance of grapes, greater in amounts than last year, but they simply are not ripening! This time last year they were almost ready to pick, but this year they are a month behind and there’s a distinct tinge of autumn in the air.
However, I remember reading in the book by David Wilkinson [Secrets from the Vine] that sometimes you need to strip off most of the foliage and unproductive stems to ensure that the energy from the plant goes to the fruit and not the foliage! I have done this to a degree and there has been a marked improvement in the swelling of the grapes! Next week I’ll strip another third of the leaves and stems away to ensure maximum light and sunshine penetration. There will be a good crop this year!
The lesson of Jesus is similar, we either produce a nice shady bower of leaves and stems, [outward form] or we produce useful fruit [inner character]. I remember two years ago asking my client ‘what do you want, lots of foliage and shade or lots of fruit you can do something with? But I said, you can’t have both!’ She opted for the fruit, and I still maintained some dappled shade for her! We as Jesus’ disciples have a choice I guess, lots of outward form and activity that looks great but is just outward form, or we allow Him to strip us of the shallow, the superficial, the insignificant which may look good to others but it is unproductive in the area of fruitfulness and usefulness! I’ll delve in to this a bit deeper next time, but till then, I’ll pray.
PRAYER Heavenly Father God, the lesson in nature and in the teachings of Jesus are very clear, we may want the best of both worlds, but the reality is that in the realms of Kingdom and Church life, only one is useful, effective and significant! Just as oil and water don’t mix, or iron and clay, neither does the world system and the Kingdom of God mix! I choose your way, so help me to allow you to strip away the superficial so that my life may produce beneficial results. For Jesus sake and so that He may see fruit for the travail of His soul. Amen