Every day around here is pretty much the same. Get the girls up, help them get breakfast, wipe their faces (although, I admit, sometimes I forget about this step and I find myself frantically rubbing their faces as they get on the bus), pack up their backpacks, making sure they got their lunches, shoes on, jackets on, and head down to the bus stop.
On the way down to the bus stop each morning I notice many fallen branches. Some small, some really big. Unfortunately, that means some of our street trees are nearing the end of their lives, but other times, it means the branch was dead, barely hanging on, and they fell. They needed to be released from the tree firmly planted, because otherwise that dead branch would continue sucking life nutrients that the still alive tree needed. It could eventually hinder the growth of the healthy tree, causing it to become unhealthy. This reminded me of something gardeners do to keep plants and trees healthy and beautiful:
Just as beautiful trees, rosebushes, plants, etc need pruning from time to time, so do we as God’s most beautiful creation. Sometimes, we have things we are holding onto that are sucking life out of us. They are taking the nutrients our hearts, souls, and minds so desperately need. We all will have times in our lives that require pruning. It may look like stepping back from a relationship that is toxic. It may look like getting rid of certain environmental factors that are causing unnecessary stress.
Sometimes, however, it will be reaching into the deepest, darkest, most secretive places in your soul to finally release control of that area of life you have so desperately clung to. You know it is causing your soul to be sick, but you are afraid to let it go. You are afraid to prune it back for fear of what it will expose underneath. You are afraid if you prune that part, it will leave other parts vulnerable.
But, you see, by pruning your heart, you leave room for growth. Beautiful growth. Fruit bearing growth. Pruning prepares your heart for something more beautiful to come. Pruning allows the life giving nutrients to reach those places that used to be covered by the tangled mess of dead branches. Pruning allows the sun to finally shine on those cavernous places in your soul, bringing with it all the warmth, beauty, and light it was starving for.
Pruning, though painful and hard at the time, gives life.
I realized that I have a place like that. I have a place in my soul, in my life, that I am holding onto so tight you couldn’t break into it with the jaws of life. I need to uncurl my fingers and unclench my fist. I need to allow God to prune this area in my life. I need to cut off this diseased portion so that the beautiful parts can grow and be used.
Do you have a place in your soul that needs pruning? Will you release that today? Allow God to prune the dead so your beautiful shows even more? So that God can use you to bear even MORE fruit?
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” John 15:1-7