A Master Gardener, an older kindly gentleman, came to prune our apple tree yesterday.  He doesn’t seem to know there is a coronavirus – he’s whistling while he works outside.

He mentioned that he had asked advice from a professional apple grower.  That advice:  “Don’t feel sorry for the tree.”

dd19f200-62bb-43ce-aa78-1ce5d573d8caAnd so he whacked deeply.  What was before a fifteen to twenty-foot tree is now reachable with our hands.  Its breadth was as great as its width – is now simply nine bare branches.  No stalks, no-frills, no spindles, no . . . nothing.

Every now and then as he cut so deeply, he patted the tree.  A tree whisperer.

As I (Linda) watched from my window, safely living within social distancing, I felt my own heart resonating with the tree.  What had been in our lives one week ago, classes, academic courses, preaching and teaching all about the province, gym workouts, friendly visits, and essential prayer times are now all laying on the ground.

The Master Gardener has pruned us deeply.

In one week, over a dozen people have been laid off from Heritage.  Refunding all the students for room/board and canceling all spring and summer conferencing has changed everything financially.  Faculty are struggling to move online and future enrollment is uncertain.   The school is shuttered, the doors are locked.  We are now simply a few bare branches.  No stalks, no-frills, no spindles, no…nothing.

We know that “every branch that does not bear fruit, He takes away.  And every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2). 

Somehow this complete dismemberment is still part of His all things that work together for good (Rom 8:28).  He pats.  A tree whisperer: “Abide in me.  This will produce “more fruit.”  That’s His part.

Our part, He says:

  1. Not only quarantined at home – but to abide closely with Him (15:4).
  2. Completely.  Where?  What?  How?  Do whatever He says (15:4-7).
  3. Let His Word abide. (If you abide in Me and My words abide in you (15:7)
  4. (Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you – 15:7, 15:16).
  5. Seek His glory, and it will bear much fruit and prove our discipleship (15:8)
  6. Love (15: 10, 12, 13, 17).
  7. See His joy made full (15:11)

A Master Gardener, a kindly Father, came to prune our tree this week.  He says: “more fruit.”


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