I heard a sermon a few months back about the idea of pruning.
At the Bernard house, we’ve learned the hard way that when plants, trees, and shrubs aren’t probably trimmed at certain stages of growth, they become unwieldy messes. Their limbs climb high and awkwardly or stick every which way.
During the last five years, we’ve lost three trees (or substantial sections of three trees) in storms because of our lack of pruning.
Yep. We’re pretty lousy at landscaping, but I digress. (Ahem.)
God, however, is a pruner and a refiner. He knows the right time to clip and crop. He knows how to shave away the awkward stubs.
He knows that dead limbs are hollow nutrient sucks, robbing life from our root systems and preventing real fruit-bearing.
He knows when and where to cut in order to maximize growth.
Ugh. This pruning is hard work. And painful. It’s just easier to let the landscape of our hearts go unattended, isn’t it? (It is in the Bernard yard, that’s for sure.)
For those of us in Christ, we know how our stories end.
But the stuff in the middle? That’s the hard part, right?
I’ll be honest. I’m having a tough summer. Maybe it’s the heat mixed with my kids’ boredom that parches my soul. But I feel particularly thirsty now. I’m counting on my “wild vines” to reach every which way, hoping to find water. When I’m parched, I don’t take cheerfully to pruning.
Yet I submit to the process. Sometimes willingly. Sometimes reluctantly. But I submit nonetheless.
So, what’s God doing?
God is cutting away the superfluous so that I must rely on the slating flow from my roots—his roots—the Living Water.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. —Romans 5:1-4 (ESV)
Oh, and it’s hard. That whole chain of suffering—endurance—character—hope stuff? Couldn’t I just skip that? Because I’d rather get a leaf or two damp than depend on God for sustenance during radical surgery.
But I pray:
God, you show me. You prune me. When I try to medicate with mindless entertainment, show me. When I medicate by stuffing my emotions and emptiness with food, show me. When I medicate by trying to rustle up my own self-worth by engaging in some behavior that’s self-serving and self-congratulatory, show me. Prune me. I want to endure the hardness of the pruning so that I may eventually possess hope.
God, may Jesus be my everything. Take away all my crutches so that Jesus can be my sole support.
Prune those stray branches that are nothing more than death wrapped in empty promises.
How does God prune you?
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