Saturday, June 09, 2012

OUCH! (Pruned to Blossom)

Pruning (transitive verb)
  • To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant, for example, to improve shape or growth.
  • To rid, clear of, or remove anything superfluous or undesirable.

Pruning is a gardening process needed for a tree or a plant to grow in health and shape. This is a truth that is at times associated when a person growing in God experiences tests and difficulties.

Of course, plants don’t get hurt (do they?!). But in “real life”, when something is cut off or removed, there is always pain involved. The degree of pain can be proportionate to the extent by which the thing that is being removed has grown on a person.

But why do some things (which, more often, we find desirable, comforting or giving us happiness) need to be taken away from us? Similar to what happens when pruning is done, this process – no matter how painful it seems – causes GROWTH, BEAUTY, and FRUITFULNESS.

Growth. Every gardener knows that for a tree to grow, it will need some (sometimes serious) cutting of branches that are already dead. For our own good, God cuts away parts of our lives that drain us of energy we need to focus on Him and what He wants us to do. Are there things that take most of our time, resources and attention to the point that we already compromise what should belong to God? Surely, these things will soon go through some pruning. But God’s intention is not to hurt us or deprive us in any way. He wants us to grow…and grow we will!

Beauty. For a plant to remain in good shape, pruning is also done. This takes the form of trimming unnecessary leaves that make a tree look dull and lifeless. Are there aspects of our character that do not reflect God’s breath-taking beauty? It can be the way we manage our emotions, how we demonstrate patience, our attitude when conflict arises, or how we value our relationships. As a woman, one of my favorite encouragements from the Bible is to have that unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. God has been teaching me to be calm, trust and rely on Him completely and sit still as I rest in His unfailing love amidst confusions and difficulties. This takes some painful trimming of things that make me worry, restless and unsettled. And all because God wants me to bloom in beauty!

Fruitfulness. After a pruning process, a tree bears much fruit. According to the Iowa State University Reiman Gardens horticultural brochure, Pruning Grapevines, “The purpose of pruning is to obtain maximum yields of high quality grapes and to allow adequate vegetative growth for the following season.”  A painful experience can actually be the preparation we need for an upcoming season of fruitfulness. It should then make us excited! We are being pruned now so we can be fruitful soon!

Are you going through a tough, painful time right now? Be of good cheer! As you abide in God, the Master Gardener, and trust His process, you are on your way to blossoming growth, beauty and fruitfulness. Listen and obey when He asks you to let go of things that keep you from His purposes and your ultimate good. He knows and does what's best.

As we go through seasons of pruning, I pray for the grace and strength to fully yield to God’s work in us as He steadies our hearts for what He has secured for us - all in His good, pleasing and perfect will. The best is yet to come! :)

"But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father." John 15:7-8, NLT

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