“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.” (John 15:1-2)
Lately, I’ve been sort of pondering on a lot of my traits and personality qualities. I started forming a checklist in my mind and I became so preoccupied on whether or not God wanted me to be this way or that way or do this or do that. It progressed to the point where I just felt like giving up because I couldn’t see myself ever being the person I felt like I was being expected to be. I wanted all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 6:22), but I wasn’t sure how to get there, especially because of how my brain was wired and the sort of personality I have.
What I realized today, however, is something that really changed my mindset on this whole situation and struggle I’m having with myself. Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and it’s so easy to narrow what that means to only a portion of its truth. This verse doesn’t say that only what we judge as our “good parts” are from God. It’s saying that the person we are- our disabilities or personality traits, and even whether we’re an extrovert of introvert- is part of God’s plan for us. Even the things we wish so badly we could change.
We all have weaknesses and we can probably all agree that there are things about ourselves, especially the way our mind works or how we handle situations, that we desire to get rid of. The crazy thing is that God wants to use us as we are- weaknesses, disabilities, and all. As you flip through the Bible, you see tons of people who had a lot of issues yet were still used for God’s glory through it all.
A person who is very quiet and reserved may think that they need to be like their bold and loud neighbor who’s not afraid to evangelize on every street corner. The thing this person fails to see, though, is that their introversion is a part of who they are for a reason. Introverts tend to be deep thinkers and they can function well in smaller social settings. They are also usually good listeners, and their quietness can give them the aura of serenity that some people may need to see to feel like they can approach them in order to ask about Jesus. God doesn’t only favor a certain type of people and He most certainly doesn’t create junk.
Stop assuming that because you’re not like “this” or “that”, you aren’t going to be able to do what God desires for you. This is far from true. Sometimes it’s because you’re not like others that you’ll be able to do what God desires for you. The things that we may think are holding us back may be the very things He will use in us to bring others to Christ.
While these are awesome truths to live by and learn from, John 15 goes even further by just one simple word that can be easily overlooked. The word prunes, taken into context and looked at on a deeper level, means God will shape or cut away unneeded things or “deadened leaves” for an even greater abundance. Anything that is keeping us from our purpose will be cut from our branch so that our fruit can continue to grow. The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that God can’t fully prune us unless we’re willing.
Instead of only accepting the “good” and “pleasing” parts of us and believing that the “different” or “less-than-perfect” parts of us will prevent God from working in our life, we need to ask Him to shape us and mold us into the person He wants us to be. What He needs to do is prune us so that we can focus these things on Him and produce more fruit. He doesn’t want to recreate us into an unrecognizable version of ourselves. He wants us to become an even stronger version of ourselves that can bear more fruit based on who we are and what we’re already capable of.
If you’re wanting to produce more fruit in your life, first ask Him to show you the things you do, think, or say that have been twisted into something less than what God wants. Then once you’ve realized what it is exactly that needs to be refocused on God, allow Him to do the pruning by praying and surrendering. Whether he puts you in situations where you’re required to do things differently than you would, or he puts you in situations where you’re required to do exactly what you thought you weren’t meant to do, you are being shaped by the loving hands of God and it’s in those instances that you need to let go and just allow Him to show you how to act and who you’re meant to be.
He could completely cut off a portion of your branch to allow the rest to grow. Or He could just slightly trim some of the leaves off so whatever it is you have, whether it be a trait or little tidbit of yourself, can be given the room to grow in the right direction and do what it’s meant to do. The point is that you’re not focusing on how you can get where God wants you to be, you’re focusing on letting God get you where God wants you to be.