In the corner of the garden are three rows of blackberries. The fruit I love, taking care of their thorny canes, not so much. In late winter, with long sleeves, thick gloves, and a sharpened sniper I face the gnarled mess.
My inclination is to walk away, but instead, I begin snipping off last year’s browned and brittle canes. I quickly discern that I’m tardy to the party. New growth is already happily growing over last year’s decaying jumble and rooting itself where it doesn’t belong.
Blackberry therapy is all about cutting off the old while firmly attaching the new to the heavy-duty wire supports. The blackberry patch is a lot like me—complete with brittle, old brambles needing to be pruned off and thorny branches attaching themselves far away from the sturdy vine.
Carefully avoiding the thorns, I affix each haphazard young branch close to the main vine—so it can thrive near its source of nutrients. The fiercely independent blackberries are not easily tamed. Reluctant obedience—just like my own can be.
Blackberry thorns routinely embed themselves in thumbs and fingers. Days of painful festering follow. I wonder how many of my thorny words have caused festering wounds? Just another way I share the bramble-like world of blackberries.
I think about God pruning me—removing the dead stuff to make room for new growth. It hurts before it heals.
Warm spring days will bring an exuberant outburst of growth. With long sleeves and gloves, I’ll reattach the wild canes—keeping them close to the sustaining vine.
I get my strength, direction, and nourishment from the Vine too. And just like pruned blackberries, God promises good fruit at harvest.
“I am the true vine; my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.” John 15:1-2