Just look at them growing all wild and willy-nilly.
I am an attentive wife and mother, but a neglectful gardener as of late.
My pretty pale pink roses were starving for attention, and I intended to spend Saturday giving them just what they needed. I was going to tend those beauties and cut a few to bring inside and sketch for a painting.
Donning gloves and sharp pruning shears, I headed out to the rosebushes. As I got closer, I realized that the roses that looked so lovely from a distance had been overtaken by Japanese beetles. I had to prune them all, lest the pests spread to endanger the rest of the plant. I snipped seven roses, their petals falling into my hand.
In the process I noted that many leaves were spotted and/or yellowed with disease. Those needed to be cut as well. The more I severed, the more disease I saw and the more I needed to cut. The rule of pruning roses is to cut as far back as the disease goes. Even if the newest leaves appeared healthy, the branches still needed to be trimmed back to where the disease began.
As I continued I noticed deep within the plant the pest’s nest—the root of the problems. It broke my heart to have to cut my beautiful botanical pal, but in order to make it grow stronger rather than die of disease, I needed to cut off everything that wasn’t good, and then dust it with something that would protect it from further disease.
And so it is with us Christians. We may look beautiful and desirable and prolific on the outside to others, but upon closer inspection (even introspection) we find that we are indeed diseased--by sin. We need to be pruned by the Master Gardener Himself.
I pray that He will prune away everything that isn’t good (godly), even if what He chooses to cut is attractive to others. If it isn’t good, it’s got to go.
First He’ll sacrifice the showy flowers—my own vanities which others may find attractive but, in reality, they are not godly. Then He will lop off the stuff that’s as useless to me as those dead roses were to the living plant. He’ll cut out all signs of disease—watching dumb TV shows, being sarcastic to my husband, etc.
And then, because He is God, He will dig out the root of the problem—the disease itself—the sin. He’ll wash me with the blood of Christ and I will be new indeed.
Before I knew it, the cart was full of dead stuff from the rosebush. I think of myself and the cartful of dead stuff that the Lord may prune off of me. On first glance, you might not think I had so much sin in me. I could tell myself the same thing, except I know better. That would be a lie.
There is not much left to my rose bush, but at least I know that what remains is healthy. And stronger. It can now use its energy to produce fragrant new flowers.
And so it is with each of us. And the Church. And believers everywhere. God burns away the chaff.
I wonder if God hates to prune us the way we hate to prune our roses and discipline our children. After all, pruning hurts. We don’t make it easy for Him with our thorny dispositions. We are resistant to change. We don’t want to be taken out of our comfort zone.
But God knows what’s good for us the way we (hopefully) know what’s best for our children and for our flowers. We can see the bigger picture. God can see the bigger picture. Once we prune away the sin and disease on the outside, we can more clearly see the sin that needs to be cut out at its very core.
The only one who can properly prune us so that we can grow to our full potential is the
Lord. He created us for His purpose. Through His grace He will cut away what is
dead in us in order to make a proper place for His glorious Spirit to thrive.
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