Once upon a time, there was an Old Grape Branch. He had been growing in the vineyard for a very long time and his fruit was the biggest and sweetest fruit around! People came from far and wide to taste his fruit.
The Young Branch beside him looked up to him and said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up. What can I do to have fruit as big and sweet as yours?”
The Old Branch said, “Be willing.”
The Young Branch thought, “That’s strange…be willing?”
The next day, the gate opened, and the gardener walked in. The gardener bent down on one knee, reached into his back pocket, pulled out what looked like sharp scissors, and moved toward the Young Branch’s friend down the row.
The Young Branch watched as his little friend cried, “No, no, why are you doing this to me? Haven’t I been sweet? Please, don’t cut me!”
The Young Branch looked up at the Old Branch and asked, “What’s happening…why did the gardener do that? Is it because he didn’t like her?”
The Old Branch replied, “No! What you just saw proves that the gardener loves that little branch.”
The Little Branch replied, “Oh, is it because my friend did something wrong and the gardener is punishing her?”
The Old Branch answered, “No. Your friend is being pruned. Not because she was trying to do things wrong, but because she was trying to do things right. Not because her fruit was not sweet, but because the gardener wants it to be even sweeter.”
The Young Branch replied, “Well, you don’t have to worry about being pruned. You have the sweetest fruit in the garden!”
“Oh, I want to be pruned!” the Old Branch said.
“You what? It must hurt, and you’re going to look funny.”
The Old Branch chuckled and replied, “Yes, it is quite uncomfortable. But it is necessary. You see, my young friend, I have a fungus growing on my underside that no one can see. Pruning will keep me healthy. So when the gardener comes to prune me, I won’t pull my leaves back. I’ll lift myself high in the air to make His job easier. And always remember, the very fact that you’re being pruned means you will bloom again.”
Just then the gardener stopped by the Old Branch, and the Young Branch saw the old branch raise his leaves high up in the air. He heard a snip, and the Old Branch lay on the ground… all except for the nub. Then the gardener turned to the Young Branch. His little leaves were shaking, and tears rolled down his side, but with every ounce of strength, he raised his leaves high in the air, looked up into the gardener’s face and said, “Kind and gentle gardener, I’m willing.”
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