“…and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2

So we bear some fruit and look up to get a commendation or a blessing.  Nothing.  Heaven is like on the other side of a sheet of brass.  God is silent.

What did we do?  Did we do it wrong?  Are we being judged for pride in our achievements?  Why do we feel so chastised and even worthless?

Blessed is the soul who reaches that point in their relationship with God.  It is the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.  When He had given all, paid the ultimate price, He felt that God had forsaken Him.

Someone may ask, “What do you mean by “blessed”?  I know, it doesn’t seem blessed, but don’t worry.  No one will ever reach that point in their experience with God unless they have been faithful in bearing fruit.

Think of it this way.  What do you do with a glass when you wish it to be clean?  (The wrong answer is, “Put it in the dishwasher.”)  You take a dishrag or sponge and you scrub and purge the inside of it.  You want it to be clean and fit for use. (Psalm 51:7)

The fact is, when you become fruitful God will prune and purge you so that you will bear more fruit.  Having been raised with a peach orchard a few feet from our house, I have seen the pruning in action.  It doesn’t feel good to us spiritually.  It is not happy time in victory camp, but there is joy.

But why doesn’t God reward us?  Have we not read His word?  He has promised us a reward in eternity, but down here we are His vessels.  We are on this earth to be used by Him.  The first Christians recognized this fact and rejoiced when they were beaten and imprisoned for doing His will.

The blessing is in knowing that God is going to do a greater work through you.  That is why He is pruning and purging you.  Besides, a pruning and purging do not always follow a significant bearing of fruit. (Proverbs 10:22)  But there are those moments when you are ready for it.  God knows that you are submissive and faithful, that you trust Him with your life.  Like Job, you may not understand it, but you refuse to deny Him.

Therefore, don’t pray to be used if you have not counted the cost.  If you are unwilling to suffer, or to have things removed from your life by pruning, or to endure the painful process of purging, you are not ready to be in service.

But what other choice do you have?  If He can’t use you, are you “usedmore” or useless?

I remember reading a biography about a man greatly used by God.  He was coming down the stairs after a morning session of prayer.  Tears were streaming down his face.  They were tears of joy.  But his friend asked him what was the matter?  He replied, “God said, ‘Smith, I’m going to break you’”

He was rejoicing even though he knew he was headed for suffering.  Blessed is the individual that will rejoice in suffering because he or she knows that God is making him or her into a more productive vessel.  Such a person is as focused as one can be on what really matters in this life.

It is not about my comfort, my satisfaction, accolades of people, or any other thing important to the flesh.  It does not matter if I am rejected, thought a fool, or demoted to the bottom of the social heap.  It only matters if I am pliable and malleable in the hands of God.  The reward of being the piece of clay He chooses to use for whatever task, lofty or menial, must be the blessing and reward.  All else is froth and stuff.