I am in the most remarkable season with God. It is very uncomfortable, sometimes boring, sometimes painful, and often irritating. I love Him and so very confident of His love for me. This season, however, sucks. It is no wonder then that He brings up the idea of cutting off dead branches. The Bible uses the terms pruning.
gerund or present participle: pruning
trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, esp. to increase fruitfulness and growth.
Most people, and me, hear the term pruning and they want to run for the hills. But you’ll notice the last little part of the definition. To increase fruitfulness and growth.
Ah yes. Well this issue does make the most fearful, lazy, or resistent of us to hang around a bit more.
Let me give you a beautiful real life picture. I have a butterfly bush that seemed as if it was dying. Once vibrant and lovely, a home to many butterflies, it became brown and shaggy with very little monarch activity. I really considered pulling up the whole plant. But I kept hearing my gardener friend, Beth, talk about how she was “deadheading” flowers in her job as a landscaper. One day I walked past the butterfly bush and I sensed that my plant was not dying at all, but in need of a hard pruning. The bush couldn’t keep up with managing the dead stalks and the new ones at the same time. So its growth and production slowed down.
Pause — for effect.
Give yourself a moment to consider dead places that once may have been great but now cease to have or give life. Give yourself a moment to think on the expense and fatigue it is to keep up with the dried out areas and nurture the new ones.
Moving on. With my careful instruction, Charis trimmed off the dead or dying blossoms on the bush. When she was done, it looked like it had a bad haircut. But weeks later, it looked like a brand new plant. Fresh blossoms abounded as did the fluttering guests. Cutting off the dead or overgrown branches really did increase its fruitfulness and growth. Which brings me to my sucky season.
God is cutting off dead places in me. I have some habits that have been chopped off. Thinking too much about what others think of me, not defending my own boundaries, even wasting time…these dead methods have had to go because they suck the life out of me. I have some people that I have had to let go of. Some were beautiful for the season we shared. Some were plain toxic. But now, God is doing a new work. I can hang on to the “idea” of our relationship, however, the reality is they are dead weight and carrying them around doesn’t make room for the new relationships God wants to grow in me.
Some other things He is pruning?
Getting rid of stuff. I don’t need it. Clutter is costly to my soul.
Cutting off excuses about health and wellness. Time to invest in this temple.
Stripping expectations of “how things should be according to me.” I am not in charge. Of anything. Period.
Surrender to the Gardener is non-negotiable.
As I wait here being plucked, trimmed, and even gouged…there is a hope that rises. God doesn’t waste anything. He is wanting what He has planted in me to bear the most fruit and growth possible for His glory. And, He is willing to hurt me to help me. What will I do during this process? Believe God or blast God?
Two questions fell out of my mouth when I was talking to a friend who is also going through severe pruning.
“What is God trying to teach me right now? and Am I being a good student?”
These are worthy of answers. I can spend my time complaining about the pain and uncertainty of the pruning. Or, I can trust that everything that is being cut away by His loving Hand is going to bring about good in my life. So the pruning continues.
Here’s to holy shears.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.