Cut out the suckers

apple-tree-257958_1920I was in college, dating my wife-to-be, Amber, and I stopped by to visit her parents. Amber jokes that I never really dated her, but I actually dated her parents. I did spend a great deal of time with them, and in some ways, she is right. On this particular day I stopped by because Amber’s mom needed help pruning their huge apple tree. I remember when I pulled into the driveway Joan was already well into the process of cutting off all of the suckers. Suckers are the vines, or branches, on a plant that do not produce fruit. They take nutrients away from the plant and do very little else.

I think back on that day and remember the vast pile of suckers we cut away. When we finished it looked like we had cut the tree back to just a stump. Amber’s mom knew that the tree would come back the next spring, strong and healthy, but only if we pruned it back.

Last week I talked about the things in life that distract us spiritually. The memory of pruning that apple tree made me think of another area in my life that distracts me. No, it’s not apple trees, although a homemade apple pie can divert my focus pretty fast. It’s the items in my life that suck away my energy. It is the things I settle for that are good but not great. Lately, God has been convicting me about my schedule, priorities and the amount on my plate. After spending time in the Word and in prayer, the Lord convicted me to look at my daily schedule. Immediately I could see several suckers that are just draining me.

The interesting thing about those branches on the apple tree is that they look very healthy, full of leaves and part of the tree. Yet, when inspected, they are not producing fruit. They just look good. Wow! I have some of that in my life. Because our family is planting a church, I have to evaluate my life so that I can remain as healthy as possible. I have to know what distracts me and where I am settling for good things over great things. I must identify the areas of my life that are not producing fruit and be willing to cut them away.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us:

“Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability.”

I cannot give an activity my full attention if I am divided or distracted. I want everything I do to be intentional and effective for God. I want to produce the best fruit I can as I walk through this life.

Think about your life for a minute.

  • Do you find yourself overly busy with things that just seem to suck the life out of you?
  • Do those things keep you distracted from growing spiritually or producing fruit that might benefit others who are important to you?

I would challenge you this week to examine your life and see if you have “suckers.” Identify one of them and decide to make a healthy biblical change in your life. Share with a close friend your decision and ask them to keep you accountable.

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