Years ago, I went into the hospital with stomach pain. After examining me for a few moments, the doctors told me they needed to quickly take out my appendix. Easy enough, I thought. That’s a routine procedure.
Eight days after my surgery, I was still in pain. So the doctor examined me once again and said, “You’ve got a huge internal hernia.” So they took me back into the operating room. And after that second painful operation—facing 10 more days in the hospital—I laid there feeling dejected. God had cut back my activities. He’d cut back my contact with others. He had surely pruned me to the bud!
Yet, I realized that the reason He allowed this was related to this ward of people around me. And He expected me to bear fruit. They didn’t have a hospital chaplain, so I asked my nurse, “Do you ever have a church service in here?”
She responded, “Oh, no. We’ve never had one of those.”
And I said, “I’ll do one for you, if you like, on Sunday.”
To my amazement, she said, “That would be wonderful. Would you mind if we wheeled in everybody else from all the other wards who would like to hear this church service?”
Well, I’d never spoken publicly in my life. And here I was offering to lead a church service, still flat on my back in pain. It was too late to back out, so on Sunday—to my horror—the doors opened, and all of these people were wheeled in. And from my wheelchair, I talked to them about Jesus, sharing from John 15, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” And I told them about how we can be grafted in and pruned to be more fruitful.
It was a terrible talk, but I did my best. And at the end, I asked if they’d like to be a branch grafted by grace into Jesus, the Vine. Then I went around in a flurry in my wheelchair, as people asked me to talk and pray with them. I tell you, there was a harvest!
God loves to take the ridiculous and turn it into the miraculous. All He needs is a little branch like you and me that’s going to say, “Okay, I’m pruned! Obviously, You intend for me to bear fruit not only in my attitude, but also in my actions.”
Sometimes God needs to cleanse, clip, and prune us so we can reach our full potential in bearing fruit. But you can trust His loving hand as you go into this new year. Just rest and abide in Him—and His pruning will make you prosper!