Thursday, July 10, 2008

When Pruning Hurts

My nieces are at that age where they question everything. “Why? Why?” is common from their mouths. When I think of it though, I can be a bit of a three year old when talking to God.

“God, why can’t I have this?” “Why isn’t working this out?” “God, this isn’t fair – Why that for them and I’m stuck this?” “I want to!” "Please fix this."

Ah… discipline. God has to weed our childish ways out of us. So often we want from the wrong motives or we want, because in our hearts, we’ve made something an idol. God will not be an enabler in setting up idols against himself. Logical, I suppose.

In fact, God is far more apt to put us through a process of pruning to remove all the wrong thinking, bad behaviors, idol worship, and unhealthy living from our lives. Half the time we don’t realize the detriment these things are doing to us. Fortunately, he does and isn’t about to let us get away with anything.

"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.” John 15:1-2

Several years ago, I helped my dad prune some bushes in the front yard. They were pretty bad off, with a lot of dead branches and even the beginnings of some disease. If there were any hopes of them surviving, I was going to have to trim them back pretty far.

As I clipped away, I began to feel guilty and speak to the plant. “I’m so sorry I have to cut off so much. I just have to in order to save you.” I trimmed so far, the bush just looked sad. Yet, it had to be done.

The more I cut, the worse felt… until I got it. This is God with us.

All of the things that pull us away from Him and/or hurt us, have to be cut away. Some times, it only takes a gentle pruning. But in some cases, he has to remove entire branches, that fail to produce fruit. Branches, that if left unattended, can damage the entire plant (me). The more gangrenous the sin in our lives, the more deeply he’ll need to cut. Deep pruning hurts.

God doesn’t like to see me hurt, but he knows that he must prune me, to make me the godly women he envisions. He's doing it to save me... from myself. He wants me to bear amazing fruit, not small and wimpy fruit. The properly pruned plant, bears far more beautiful and savory fruit than the plant left unattended.

I take an honest look at myself. There are some simple areas in my life that could use some gentle pruning. They’re areas of my life, that are not at huge risk, but could use a trim, to enable even greater growth and fruit. However, there other areas of my life, thought patterns, desires, habits, ways of dealing with certain issues, people, that may soon require dramatic cutting if I don’t get a handle on them. Some may already be at that stage and I should be prepared for the process, even willing no matter how hard it is, for the good of me as God’s plant. Its going to hurt, but it will be very worth it, to see the end result.

How about you? Are you currently being pruned? Believe God that its out of his love. Are there areas in your life that may need a trim? Beware. Take action before deep cutting is necessary.

Before I conclude, I'd be remiss if I didn't make clear that not all hardship, pain, and suffering, is pruning. Pruning is about cutting out the junk in us. Clearly, God will use all things for our good and to his glory (Romans 8:12), but we know that not all bad is the result of errors or poor decisions we make. That's important to understand. Examine today, what in you may require a prune. Tomorrow, we'll talk about other challenges of life the gardener oversees.

Father God, I know that its out of your great love for me that you trim back everything in me that doesn't bear fruit, so that the strong parts of me may be built up to grow tremendous fruit. I may not like the pruning process. It may hurt quite a bit. But I am willingly allow it... in fact ask you for it. I trust you Lord. I pray each of us grows in trust of you, in such a way that we're willing to be pruned in order to be who you have called us to be. AMEN.

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