Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pruning From THE Gardener's Hand

My mother loved her flowers and her garden!  She planted and weeded and watered with the best of them; and when everything began to bloom she reveled in the beauty of it all.  After moving back to my home town in May of 2004, I was so busy with the changes in my life that planting flowers wasn’t an immediate priority.  I remember my mother asking me, “Judy, don’t you like flowers?!”

My mother’s enthusiasm for her yard was contagious.  She is now in heaven living in the midst of more beauty than I can even imagine.  I miss her, especially when I am digging in the yard.  Her love for gardening did eventually rub off on me and I know she would be pleased!

The other day, sans gardening gloves, I was digging around in the damp earth.  (Not recommended for beautiful fingernails but it felt good to actually touch and manipulate the soil.)  Because we live in a house that is over 100 years old, there are years of plant roots lingering below the surface.  As I pushed into the dirt making spaces for plants, I often had to cut those roots and dig them out. 

The other challenge is tree and bush overgrowth; all of you “tree huggers” know that a tree or bush explodes with growth, oddly enough, when it is pruned or cut back…. at just the right time of year.  We have a spindly rose bush (not getting enough sun) that keeps coming back, no matter what we do to it.  Upon my request, my very accommodating husband dug it out at the roots and transplanted it to a more sunny location.  I am looking forward to seeing that rose bush fill out and become a healthy, blossom producing plant.

As I dig, plant, water, weed and subsequently enjoy the end products, I can’t help but see the plan of God in this process.  Just as God created a natural world for us to enjoy, He has created us to be unique in the ways we blossom or produce fruit in our lives.    

God created us to be fruitful but to do that we must stay attached to His “vine” (Jesus).  It is His plan that we grow and blossom.  However….there are times we choose to go our own way, and these sin filled hearts of ours often take us in directions that don’t honor and please God.  It is here that danger lurks; if we are not staying attached to the vine (Jesus), we are in danger of losing our ability to produce fruit.

 In the Bible there is a wonderful comparison between us (God’s people) and the vineyards Jesus visited.  He says in John 15: 1, 2 that He (Jesus) is the true vine and God is the vinedresser.  Jesus goes on to say that every branch in Him that does not bear fruit, He takes away but a branch that does bear fruit gets pruned so it may produce more and more.

We are like those branches; when we are attached to Jesus, we become “fruit bearers”.  However, if we are not consistently reflecting Him, following Him, living for Him, we become like those branches that are taken away.  That is a sobering thought.

But even more fascinating….as we become like those branches that DO bear fruit…we are also pruned! I don’t know about you, but any pruning God has done in my life has often been painful…perplexing at the very least.  And yet, that same pruning results in great fruit in my life!

Example:  when Charlie and I were first married, we wanted to forge a new path in our community that reflected our union.  Charlie had been living here through the years and had many wonderful involvements in the community and local church. Over time God moved him out of some of the organizations that had been important to him. And….God called me to leave my long time community (in a different state) and get grounded where He wanted me.  It was a time of almost overwhelming changes while God was pruning both of us!

Where to attend and "be" church was one of our larger struggles.  Through a series of events it became clear that the church of our youth was no longer God’s choice for us…. but where did God want us?  Although it was a challenging time, we also experienced growth while God’s Word took root in our hearts and His pruning shears cut and snipped!

As I look back on that time, I praise God for those pruning shears.  Eleven years into our marriage we are still experiencing the trimming and refining process and hopefully always will! We are firmly planted in God’s garden/vineyard, grateful for what He is doing in our lives.  For the past 7 years we have been digging into the soil of God’s garden in a church of God’s choosing. 

Are you struggling today to make sense of something happening in your life?  Are there circumstances that seem totally out of your control?  Have you stopped to consider this may really be a good thing, even though it’s hard?  (I have a friend who loves to say, “hard isn’t bad/hard is just hard”.)  Is it possible God is pruning you to prepare you for a new ministry?  …. A new challenge?....A potential "fruitful" change in your life?  May He prune, snip and cut so that your "fruit" would be plentiful….all to His glory.

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