As I pulled into my driveway yesterday, I was amazed at how large the tree in my front yard has grown since I moved here 12 years ago. At that time, the tree was tiny and seemed out of place in the middle of a big yard. At one point, I even asked my yard guy to cut it down. He convinced me to keep it and let it grow. He told me I’d be surprised at how large this tree would get, and he was right.

Twelve years later, this tree has definitely grown up and out. I’ve had the tree guys come out every few years to prune it and cut out the branches that were growing downward. They explained to me that it was important to keep all growth upward and to take out those limbs that were growing in the wrong direction. When a storm comes, the winds will move through the spaces between the limbs, and the tree will not be harmed. Otherwise, the wind could destroy the tree.

I witnessed this first hand a few weeks ago. During a major thunderstorm in Memphis, I could hear the wind and rain beating against the front door and the windows. Suddenly, I heard a crash outside. I hesitated to even look for fear that the strong winds had once again blown down my fence.

But, this time, the wind had taken down half my neighbor’s tree. He hadn’t pruned it in all the years I had been his neighbor, and my tree guy had even said once, “When the next big storm comes with strong winds, that tree is going to be damaged.”

Jesus talks about the value of pruning in John 15:2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, so that it may bear more fruit.”

I remember several years ago being in shock after they pruned my crepe myrtles. I couldn’t believe how stripped down and bare these trees were after bearing beautiful flowers and thick green leaves. How could they do this to my beautiful trees???

“Just wait till next year. They’ll be even more beautiful than they were this year.” I was doubtful, but they were right. The pruning brought about the desired results.

And just like these trees, God needs to prune us from time to time in order for us to bear more fruit and become stronger so that the storms don’t take us down. But, during the pruning, it’s not easy or comfortable.

Pruning may involve being stretched, going through a difficult season, being convicted of sin. But these things are necessary to purge the things that would threaten to weaken our relationship with God and prevent us from bearing more fruit.

When I drive into my driveway and look at the tree in my neighbor’s yard and the tree in my yard, it is a good reminder to thank God for the pruning in my life.

How has God pruned you? What was the result?