Note: I wrote this article several years ago after receiving yet another diagnosis for our oldest daughter. I believe that God has purpose in all things and I hope this post will strengthen and encourage you today.
Today was a bad day.
I’m not talking about a “can’t find my keys and I’m already late” kind of day; but a gut-wrenching, sobbing, crying out to my Lord, kind of day. Were my wails for God to take away my fear and pain falling on deaf ears?
Through His Spirit, he reminded me of an episode of “Ask This Old House” (ATOH) I had seen a few weeks ago (I know that sounds crazy, but just hang with me for a bit) …
Professional landscaper, Roger Cook was showing a homeowner how to properly prune a sickly bush and I believe this is also the way God, our Master Gardener was pruning me…
- Don’t use an electric trimmer:
This method is quick and easy and gives a very groomed exterior, however the exterior of the plant grows so thick that light cannot penetrate its surface, leaving the inside brown and lifeless.
I, (like many people I suppose), want my transformation into Christ’s likeness to be quick, painless and to be obvious. I want people to see Jesus alive in my life–the groomed life, not the aching, struggling life–who would want that?
But God doesn’t want to groom our exterior, he wants to plunge his shears deep into our hearts, removing areas that may seem alive, but are really dark and preventing further growth.
- Use sharp, hand-held pruning shears:
Using the right tool means clean cuts which will not injure the plant and allows for new growth. Although God’s pruning is often painful, it is never harmful.
God knows exactly what needs to be removed from my life in terms of control, attitude and stubbornness. These things will grow out of control and choke off any fruit that may be trying to develop.
- Make cuts deep inside the plant to allow light to penetrate the surface and to foster new growth:
God needs to cut deep so that His light will shine in our spirit and create the growth He knows is possible. The homeowner in the ATOH episode asked, “Won’t my hedge look like Swiss-cheese?”
That’s what I feel like when God is using his shears in my life–exposed, full of holes where everyone can see the ugly brownness underneath my green exterior. I don’t like being vulnerable.
It makes me feel weak, but trusting God means that He is strengthening me for longevity in His purpose.
- Only remove about one-third of the plant at a time, be patient:
Sometimes when I feel the Pruner’s hand, I want it all over with at once. OK God, if you need to prune, just take it ALL so I will never need pruning again! Taking too much of the plant would harm it and it could die.
God will NEVER harm me with his pruning. I know that my Lord loves me so much that He takes his time to groom me into Christ’s likeness. I am his work of art, not to be beautiful on the outside, but to be strong, vibrant and flourishing on the inside.
This is a cycle of pruning, healing, new growth, then more pruning. Each time I allow him to work on my heart, I become stronger and more like Him.
- Proper pruning creates uniqueness:
Ever drive down the road and see “perfectly” groomed shrubs or trees and they look like large tennis balls, or even worse, animals? Just grooming the exterior may produce an eye-pleasing look, but there is no uniqueness to those plants and underneath they are really dead.
God created me perfectly unique and so the way He prunes me will also be unique to me. Transforming to be more like our Lord Jesus does not mean God wants us to be carbon copies of each other. The gifts, talents and passions he gave me were His special blessings in my life, for no one else, just me.
Allowing myself to be pruned, not fighting against it, will help me use those gifts, talents and passions for His purpose, not mine. I imagine that He will need to prune certain areas again and again because my pride is like a fast-growing weed that doesn’t allow his light to shine.
As my eyes swell from the seemingly never-ending flow of tears, I can feel the loving hand of my Creator perfecting me for His glory–Thank you Lord for loving me this much!
Just so you know…
Jesus loves you too.