Last year, I planted 5 rose bushes. The very interesting thing about roses – at least these kind – they only produce buds on new growth. So, once a rose blooms and dies, the leaves surrounding it get left behind as new growth is sprouted on top of it.
About a month ago, I put my gloves on (only after learning the VERY hard way that you MUST wear gloves to prune rose bushes), grabbed the shears and started hacking away at the bush. My heart sank with every snip. I hacked and chopped my way down until only a few large “sticks” were poking out of the ground. It was sad, people. At least, before, it had leaves. Now it was just these sticks that had giant thorns poking out every which way. When the deed was done, I just stared at it. It was not fulfilling. Even though I knew in my head it was the “right” thing to do, I was a bit depressed over it.
I was proud of my roses! Now I only have sticks. Pokey sticks. Now more like weapons than a thing of beauty.
For over a month, I glanced at the sticks every time I went in the back yard. It was like they were screaming at me, “Why did you do this to me?!” “I’m sorry! I googled it and it told me to do it!” (Is it weird that I have mental arguments with my rose bushes?)
Well, one day, I walk by and took my usual heart wrenching glance. What’s this?! A LEAF that is growing out of a little knob on the stick?! Can it be TRUE??!!! Fast forward a few weeks and now – dah da dah DAH! – the sticks are gone! I now have actual BUSHES rather than menacing sticks! AND I have 3 roses that have bloomed!!! (applause is very necessary here.)
So, what’s my point and how does any of it have to do with God? Well, first of all, EVERYTHING has to do with God. Especially a garden.
I recently read a book called “Leota’s Garden” by Francine Rivers. (One of the GREATEST writers EVER!) There was a quote in there that I loved: “God created the garden for man and placed him in it. Adam and Eve fell into sin in a garden. Jesus taught in a garden. Our Lord prayed in a garden. He was betrayed in a garden. And He arose in a garden.”
This got me thinking…sometimes God has to do in our lives, exactly what I had to do for my rose bushes. He’s the ultimate Gardener. Not only did He create a beautiful, physical garden for the first man and woman ever, He also is our spiritual Gardener. He cuts away the branches in our lives that need to be gone, in order that we might produce more of God’s glory in our lives. More of HIS kind of growth.
My personal pruning example: I love Cutie Pie’s. Chocolate Cutie Pies. They are glorious, little pockets of chocolate pudding, fried and covered in a glaze of pure heaven. Walmart just recently started carrying them and I dove in like it was my birthday. (Which it wasn’t.) They were cheap and 10 to a box! I knew God loved me more than anyone else on earth! Well, Kristin started eating whole boxes. Kristin had ZERO discipline when it came to the lusciousness of the ever-perfect Cutie Pie. The Lord apparently saw my weakness and what happened? Walmart carries peach ones, cherry ones, lemon ones…but no longer, any chocolate Cutie Pies. The instant I went for my 6th box in 2 days, I knew…God pruned me. He knew that it was bad for me and he saw the future of my arteries – and He cut me off. And it hurt. Though I didn’t actually shed a tear, standing in Walmart, I wanted to. (My heart did.)
You see, cutie pie’s in and of themselves aren’t bad things. But, they definitely don’t/didn’t produce anything good in my life. For you, it may not be a cutie pie. But, what about that certain TV show? You’re not “technically” sinning when you watch it, but doesn’t it have regular sex scenes and promote homosexual lifestyles? What good can be brought in your life by that? Or what about that certain social networking site that consumes most of your time? You seem to have time to have a computerized “farm” yet claim to be so busy you can’t attend church or read your Bible daily?
So, maybe God wants to prune you. Maybe He’s trying to prune you. Maybe He wants those things in your life to be gone because He wants you to grow new branches. Holy branches. Branches of Light, not of the world. Not as punishment, but because He wants to give you that abundant life and so many other distractions exist that need to be gone.
Getting pruned is hard. It can hurt. But, give it time and soon….a leaf will sprout. Then get bigger and bigger and one day, not only will you have many leaves, you’ll have bloomed a beautiful rose.
God help me to recognize what things in my life need Your kind of pruning. I want the things that don’t produce any of Your kind of glory, to be gone out of my life. Help me to remember that it is all happening to make my life better and to make me better. Thank You for loving me enough to prune me to be more like You. Amen.
Scriptures I need to read today:
John 15:1-2 “I am the 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 more fruitful.”
Note: WOW. Is this not PERFECT?! I came upon this only after I wrote the blog. God is so good…I love confirmations.)
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Note: I LOVE this verse and think of it often. When God cuts away at the things in our lives that must be gone, try to see Him in it in that it is creating you to be “mature and complete, not lacking anything.’”