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New Life and Hope

Liz has been reflecting on John 15.

“The whole passage about abiding in the vine in John 15 1-8 is such a well known one, but verse 2 really struck me yesterday as I thought ‘Yes, God prunes fruitless branches but He also prunes the branches that bear fruit so they will produce even more.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. John 15:2 NLT

In the afternoon we wanted to cut back our little hedge at the front of our house. It has got way too wide and the grass was dying near it. So my husband trimmed it with the hedge trimmers. It looked neater but still too wide. Then I realised that actually underneath the healthy flourishing bushy surface was actually a lot of bare wood. The healthy looking surface needed stripping away back to the bare wood to encourage new growth. It looked very drastic and harsh! But as I cut away, there were new shoots already trying to grow underneath and buds coming lower down the branches. Without the harsh pruning they wouldn’t have been able to flourish. The hedge looks very bare but when you look closely there is new life coming all over it. It has light and air now to grow and flourish.  I have complete faith that in 6 months it will be a full, healthy and flourishing hedge once again although it will look quite different!

Why should God want to prune healthy branches? Because although they may be bearing some fruit, they can bear much more and be stronger when cut back. In this time of pandemic, God has stripped away all my bushy busyness. Yes, I was being fruitful, but underneath it all there was dry and bare wood. The dry bare wood has been exposed to the light of God. I have had time to soak in his light, had space to breathe in His Spirit and feel God is challenging me to new ways in my relationship with Him.

For the Church too. It has been stripped back completely in a way that we could never have imagined even 8 weeks ago. But God is using the pandemic shutdown to find new and powerful ways of reaching out His love to others.  The Church that maybe appeared healthy on the surface but underneath there was also bare and dry wood. We are being stripped back to realise what is truly important. The Church has adapted quickly and found amazing ways of getting the Word of God out there. It is a testimony of hope and love in seemingly bare and dry times. And this message is being seen, heard and shared more clearly than I can ever remember. 

The Lord is powerfully at work in these times and I pray what will emerge after lockdown will look different but be so much healthier and more fruitful.”

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