Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Accept the pruning.

A life lesson from a Crabapple tree.

"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).

Following Jesus Christ requires simultaneously resting in wholeness and yet never remaining satisfied. Because the height, length, depth, and breadth of God is far more than we will ever comprehend during this lifetime, we must continually seek Him, trusting that each day brings with it more opportunities to glimpse His love in our lives. And because He desires us to be sanctified (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3) and returned to a state of unity with Him, He continues to cut away traces of our old selves.

When I started observing this spot ten days ago, I noticed this tree and a similar one behind it. Both trees had been split at the trunk, as if lightning had struck and forced the greater part of the foliage to the ground. Despite this great fracture, I was excited to see the tree was already at work reproducing tiny branches along the grounded trunk, pulling from its deep-set roots to reestablish a structure that will likely be flowering again by next spring. Plants like this one have remarkable resilience to natural pruning processes. If given time and a stable habitat, they not only use the pruned, decomposing material as green compost for nutrients; they start anew! 

For humans, the "pruning" process is much more difficult. But God is not satisfied with any part of us that is not bearing fruit. And so He will call attention to our weaknesses, exposing us to the elements until we are willing to admit our weakness and seek grace. The story of Solomon's birth is a good example of not only God's pruning but also His forgiveness. After David's affair with Bathsheba and his planned death of her husband Uriah, the prophet Nathan was sent to tell the King that the son that was born to him would die (2 Samuel 12:14). Despite David's pleas to God, the child died, but the man was also promised forgiveness from the Lord. Consequentially, Bathsheba and David gave birth to Solomon, whom "the LORD loved" (see v. 24). From both of these men we have prayers and exhortations, praises and self-assessments--words of encouragement and words of warning in Scripture that persist in public and private readings universally today. 

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes, "Before God becomes satisfied with us, He will take everything of our so-called wealth, until we learn that He is our Source; as the psalmist says, 'All my springs are in You' (Psalm 87:7)" (May 16th devotional). We must accept that God finds it necessary to remove the parts of us that hinder fullness of love and rebirth. Trust His pain has purpose and remember His plans for you are good. For "though He slay me, yet I will trust Him" (Job 13:15).

PS: Here's a song of encouragement for a season of pruning: "Sky's Still Blue"

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