“Why are you cutting down your raspberry bushes? They look nice the way they are!” my neighbor asked. “Won’t that hurt them?”
My raspberry bushes, once established, have been thriving year after year, producing luscious fruit in season. Those large juicy raspberries invite picking, not only by me, but by many berry-loving birds. If the birds don’t get too many, I pick enough for several batches of jam, many raspberry cobblers, baskets for sharing, and bowls of fresh berries to eat.
“Yes. I am cutting them back. They need to be pruned,” I replied. “They need renewal through periodic pruning if they are to continue bearing fruit.”
When the fruiting canes have finished producing, the bark begins to fade, the leaves fall, and the stems die. The roots are still strong and continue to send up new shoots, but they will not flourish and continue to fruit again unless the old deadwood is cut away.
I carefully cut away the dead stems near the ground. Then I examine the new shoots for health, and prune some of them back to a good bearing bud. Other canes are trimmed back because they have grown long too soon. I dispose of all the pruned parts. Finally, the new fruiting canes are tied to their support wires, ready to produce fruit again.
“See?” I explain. “Now they will produce better than ever. And there will be even more berries to share.”
Life is a lot like those raspberries.
When I need renewal in my life, I need to let the Master Gardener do some pruning. When I feel my energy drying up, when some growth has sprouted in the wrong direction, or when my work has left me exhausted, I need to submit to God’s pruning. Sometimes that hurts, but when God prunes away what is finished and I am tied to God’s Word, I am renewed to bear more fruit.