1 ¶ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Back in Bible college, our preaching professor, Dr. Vernon Eaton, always told us, “Make sure when the Lord teaches you something that you learn the right lesson. Very often we get things backwards. We learn a lesson that’s very different from what the Lord intended to teach us.” I found his statement intriguing and was fascinated by the examples of the principle he provided. And ever since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for examples in my daily life when the wrong lesson is learned. Allow me to share one.
When I was in first grade, glue sticks hadn’t been invented yet. Instead, every student had a little paste-pot with a brush in it. My favorite brand of school paste was “Pogo Paste.” I liked it because it had a picture of a kangaroo on it. Looking back on the whole process of using school paste is hilarious to me now. It was identical to using mashed potatoes to stick your cut-color-and-paste sheets together. Nevertheless, we all had a paste-pot with a brush.
At the beginning of 1st grade, there was a boy in my class who ate Pogo Paste. When his supply was all gone, well, he started on his neighbor’s pot of paste. After about a week of this, the boy wasn’t in our classroom any more. He’d been moved to another classroom. I didn’t see him again until I went to the lunchroom one day. He was eating lunch in the cafeteria, and he was wearing the container from a set of Lincoln Logs on his head. He was also shouting, “I am the king!”
Upon seeing the self-proclaimed monarch with the highly-colored cardboard tube on his head, I reached a revolutionary conclusion. I thought to myself, “Now I understand why Mrs. Thompson told us not to eat Pogo Paste. It’s harmful to people’s brains. When you eat out of your paste-pot, it makes you silly!”
You see, I was the victim of a situation just like Dr. Eaton later talked about. I had learned the wrong lesson. The “wrong lesson” is that eating Pogo Post damages your brain and makes you silly. The “right lesson” is that eating library paste is part of the long list of things that silly people do.
This Pogo Paste example might be a little silly, but it’s a much more serious situation when people learn the wrong lesson spiritually. People often come to me and say, “Brother John, I’m having so many problems now. I never had all these troubles before I started following the Lord. I must be doing something wrong!”
If I understand the Scriptures properly, that person has learned the wrong lesson. I always tell such a person, “It’s very possible that you’re doing everything right! The devil didn’t have to try to trip you up before you started to follow Jesus. He didn’t have to—because you already belonged to him!”
Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) shows another side to that situation. Jesus said that troubles aren’t always a sign that we’re doing something wrong. Instead, He says the Heavenly Father “prunes” us like a fruit-bearing tree, so we can bear more fruit for Him. So learn this lesson well. Our frustrations can lead to great fruitfulness—if we are faithful to “stick” to our task.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 19) and Seth (age 16) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher’s sister once remarked that she didn’t understand why they make “mint-flavored-Mucilage” when you’re not supposed to eat it.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to email@example.com.