i have discovered something about myself living in Montana. i am not a great gardener. i do not have a green thumb, as they say. typically, i either water too much, or don't water enough. the things i initially try to grow usually end up taking a back seat to all the other things i've got going on. you know, like, trips and concerts and recording and stuff like that. remember, i'm a reformed city-dweller. nevertheless i decided to plant some shrub type things in the planter just ahead of our front porch. they grew nicely, with pretty purple flowers blooming and green leaves flourishing. and then one lovely, warm, summer day... a storm blew in. one of those dark, imposing summer-thunder-showers that you look forward to all season. the wind blew, the rain drenched the grass, and hail pounded the ground. and my pretty plant was unable to stand the blast. the leaves eventually withered, dried up and turned brown. another one bit the dust. not all that surprising. my plan was to pull the plants (there were 4 or 5 of them) and toss them, then replant something else next spring. however, i read something, somewhere about pruning. so i did a little digging.
here is a technical description of the process of pruning:
...pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches, buds or roots. reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. the practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, or non-productive tissue from crop and landscape plants...
i figured i had nothing to lose by cutting back the branches and limbs. so i began... and went a little overboard perhaps. (see photo above). i overlooked the part about selective or targeted removal. but look what happened.....
regrowth. rebirth. renewed beauty.
you can't help but hear the spiritual analogy in the above technical description of pruning, can you? getting rid of dead, damaged or non-productive aspects and issues in our lives for the purpose of intentional growth, improved health and increase in yield of FRUIT!!! yes and please.
however... pruning is not without pain. it's not pretty. in this case, no pain-no gain is a true statement. Jesus himself said, in John 15:1-2, "I AM the true vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
pruning refers to the targeted and selective removal of the unnecessary. when God begins the process of pruning, it means you've done good... now he believes you're ready for more. for growth. for maturity. the Bible says ... "every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire". (Matthew 7:20) Jesus said in John 15, the branches that DO bear fruit, he'll prune. it's a little bit scary, i think, because we tend to see with such earthly eyes. we see the the flesh, but He sees the future. What we may believe is our best work, He may see as just the beginning.
i shared in a previous post (you can read it here) the verse(s) that i feel called to memorize for the month of september, in addition to it being the passage that i want to be the standard i hold high over my head this coming year. the verse that i intend to let characterize my life during this, my 43rd year, and beyond. Philippians 3:13+14 talks about PRESSING ON. i also mentioned pruning there. so, now you understand. the pruning is only the beginning. pressing is required to maintain a forward motion on this journey.
i'm grateful for the clarity God is allowing in my life. helping me to recognize and acknowledge the areas of my life that need some adjustment. some pruning. i want Him to control and direct my growth! this is beyond...'i should do better' or 'i need to change this'. this is cutting away. this is lopping off. this is elimination for the purpose of maturation.
take a minute to pray and listen and write down what you hear the Master Gardener speaking to your own heart. what is He wanting to gently and tenderly cut away? yield to His Spirit, knowing that beauty and growth come with maturity.