What I learned about God through pruning my garden
Pruning is valuable, in the natural world but also in the spiritual.
At the end of the flower season, when lawn and garden nurseries start putting everything on sale, that’s when I like to shop.
The earliest blooms have already flourished and most customers have selected pots that cost anywhere from $10-$35 – beautiful pots filled with colorful blooms of the season. But in the middle of the summer, I go to one of my favorite nurseries and look in the back section – where they keep all the potted plants and flowers that did not sell. These are the rejects and because it is now the hottest part of the season, these are the pots that are priced at a bargain.
I feel a bit sorry for these rejected plants, but I have found such joy each year in resurrecting them, that I now consider them my special projects.
This year, I once again trooped to my favorite nursery and found a gigantic hanging plant. It was in such bad shape, I couldn’t even tell what kind of flowers it once held. The droopy, brown leaves looked sad, almost as if the plant whispered its last words, “Water me, please. Take me home and love me.”
So I paid a minimal price for this huge plant and carted it home. Then I set it on my deck and started pruning.
Off came all those brown, dead leaves and some of the blooms that had begun to blossom but failed to open. I watered the plant and talked sweetly to it,
“Come on, honey. You can do it. I know there’s life in you. I believe in you. Bless the plant, God.”
Then I hung it in a partially sunny area of my deck and waited.
Two days later, that plant started to bloom. Within a week of regular watering, clipping off more dead blooms and encouraging the plant with more sweet talk –new blooms appeared. By the end of the second week, no one would have ever recognized my new plant as a formerly rejected one.
I sat on my deck, enjoyed my new plant and thought about the pruning process.
In one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, the apostle John wrote,
“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 15:2 NIV).
So many times in life, God needs to prune me. He recognizes some of the dead stuff in my heart – the desire for things of this world that really aren’t that important, the over-consumption of goods that breed covetousness and greed, the impatience that pushes me to run ahead and make something happen instead of waiting on God’s timing.
These are the things he begins to prune from me. He reminds me with scripture when I need to be careful about a choice I’m about to make. He whispers a warning to me when I want to buy something unnecessary, and he puts roadblocks in front of me to keep me from a foolish decision.
Sometimes the pruning is a gentle nudge. Sometimes it’s a painful clipping of something I wanted to own or a project I wanted to do that wasn’t necessary. Sometimes God uses my body’s warning systems, reminding me to be careful and take better care of who I am.
The result of this spiritual pruning is so that I can bloom with more energy and make beauty in this scary world. After God prunes me and I confess whatever sin might be at the root of my deadness, then I begin to produce more of the harvest I was meant for. I begin to see good things resulting from my work and more opportunities to give the credit to God.
I’m so glad that God never rejects me. He never puts me on a shelf at the back of the store and refuses to water me. My season of fruitfulness doesn’t end until God takes me home to heaven.
God knows how to find new places for me to serve and new uses for the gifts he’s given me. He carefully tends to me and tears off the dead stuff so that I can show the beauty of what it’s like to be his.
I like being cared for by the Master Gardener, and I’m glad for the example of pruning in my own garden and in my own soul.
Read an earlier post by RJ here.
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