The weather is warming up. Things are starting to bloom. What about us? Are we cultivating new growth, bearing good fruit?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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.
John 15:1-2 – NIV
This winter was tough on the old boxwoods that surround my sun porch. During one of our snowfalls, piles of heavy snow weighed them down, breaking off branches and sending some limbs on precarious paths. There was a giant hole in one of the shrubs, broken limbs scattered throughout the center of the plant. I was afraid there had been irrecoverable damage, but decided to try my hand at pruning to see if this beautiful old shrub could be saved.
Clippers in hand, I began my pruning, removing the broken limbs, taking some weight off the straining branches. As I removed the dead wood, the surrounding limbs sprang back to life, filling in the unsightly hole. Seeing these positive results, I clipped off random sections of the plant, taking some of the weight off the straining limbs. To my surprise, the branches lifted further and the shrub reclaimed its normal shape. My pruning efforts had given the broken down boxwood a new lease on life.
I can empathize with the battered and broken old shrub. Sometimes this life is just plain hard. Problems pile up, weighing us down, stealing our joy. The wintry winds toss us to and fro, wreaking havoc on our once well ordered lives.
Sometimes, we make poor choices, sending our roots down into the sinful desires of this earthly life. We cling to pride and selfishness, soak up impurity and impatience. These choices stunt our growth, depleting us of proper nutrients. Our brokenness steals our beauty, threatens our future.
We need pruning. We are a mess, and we need shaping up. Our dead wood must be cut away, allowing room for new growth.
Our Master Gardener stands ready, clippers in hand. Though the pruning process is painful, it is necessary for growth. Sometimes, the trials of this life serve as pruning shears. In living through adversity, we grow stronger, learning perseverance, finding new depths in our faith.
As The Gardener snips away at our dead wood, we are reborn, shedding our broken shapes and finding new life. We are able to bear good fruit, blessing others with our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. What was once beaten down and broken now blossoms.
Yes, the pruning process is painful, but it is achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs the temporary troubles of this difficult life. Let us submit to our pruning, trusting that our Master Gardener cares deeply for us. In His loving Hands, we will be transformed into a thing of beauty.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – NIV
O Lord God, thank You for the beauty of Your creation all around us. May we learn from the plants and trees that pruning, while painful, is necessary for growth. Train us to cling to Christ, abiding in Him that we might bear good fruit. May our attitudes and actions glorify You and bless others. Shape us, change us, let us be who You have called us to be. Grant us new life in You.
In the Abiding Name of Jesus, we pray,