I sat at the end of our driveway one weekend as a barrier between my kids and the road. A neighbor drove by and pulled alongside to chat me. We talked about spring and mulching and gardening. He mentioned the trees he’d been pruning. His wife added how painful it was to watch him taking down branches, that the trees looked quite ugly but eventually would be shaped into something beautiful.
I think of this conversation now as I read Jesus’ words to the disciples. In John 15, this snapshot of time intimate as he calls them friends. I read of his deep love for them as he speaks of laying down life for friends, of times that will be hard, how they will be hated. He tells them to remain in him and they will be fruitful. He tells them to love each other.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11 (NIV)
And he’s talking to the disciples; and he’s preparing them for what’s ahead; and he’s saying to remain in him and to remain in his love; he says to keep his commands; and he’s telling them this so that his joy will be in them and their joy will be complete.
And I sort of stumble over joy. The disciples are going to be pruned. They are going to be hated. But Jesus tells them how they can have joy. Joy completed.
Circumstance pulls at my emotions–a house on the market, a death in the family, a series of misunderstandings between friends. This heart of mine, painfully pruned. I wince, and I know my condition is not so pretty. Joy precarious, framed between “when … then” thinking. When this house sells, then …
I turn to the scriptures for truth and read the words of my Rock. He reshapes my definition and reinforces my source of joy. He reminds, “I am the true vine …” And I remember, yes. He commands, “Love.” And I plead with my heart, comply! He prunes away, that I could bear fruit–creating beauty from what is ugly.
Lord, how I would want to paint this walk with you rainbows. But it isn’t effortless or pain free. Days when I drop in a puddle to my knees, spent and wasted. You remind to remain in you–and I find myself clinging tightly. Thankful.