As he sat alone, he looked upon his withered leaves and knew he was ugly.
He wasn’t just ugly on the outside though…
it went all the way through.
He wished he could be handsome.
Oh, how he’d dreamed of being a shrub someone… anyone, would stop and notice.
But no one did.
He was just another part in his vast surroundings, and he blended in.
Every once in awhile, someone would take notice…
but it was just to wrinkle their nose in disgust.
He hated that most, for without admitting it, it hurt all the way to his roots.
“Why am I so ugly?” he thought one day.
To his surprise, he heard a gentle voice speak to him, “You have never asked for My help.”
“What help could you possibly give? I am too ugly to be saved. Even my roots are rotting.”
“But I see you for what you could be,” the stranger replied.
“What could possibly come from something so gross?! It’s too late for me.” he shrugged his leaves, causing more to fall to the ground.
“It’s never too late for you to decide.”
Impatiently the shrub asked, “Decide what?”
“That you want me to be in charge of you and take care of you… let me make you into what I already see in you.”
“Will it hurt?” he asked hesitantly.
“You will need pruning…”
The shrub interrupted, “PRUNING?! But, why? That will hurt!”
“Yes, there will be some pain, but it’s necessary for you to be all that I have planned for you. Pruning your branches will make you grow bigger and stronger. Your branches will breathe new life, and you will grow beautiful new leaves.”
“How do you know? It sounds too good to be true.”
The voice spoke even softer now, and the words almost seemed hard to hear. Its’ words were choked as it explained, “I know because I created you… I have so much more for you to be than what you’ve become.”
As the shrub processed all that the voice had said, he was still unsure.
This voice spoke of pain.
Haven’t I suffered enough?
But it also said he could be… beautiful.
Is it worth it?
He knew he didn’t like what he’d become…
Hesitantly, the shrub spoke, “I’m yours.”
It took a long time, and it was a painful process, but the voice spent every moment with him, pruning and shaping the shrub.
There were times a lot of pruning was required, but those branches seemed to be the strongest.
As he looked upon his glorious leaves, he was amazed at what he’d become.
He never would have imagined he could be so handsome!
Thinking back to the past, he asked the voice with concern, “I never want to be ugly again. How can I stay like this forever?”
The caring voice answered, “You must continue to let me take care of you always, so you can continue to grow.”
“Will I still need pruning?” he asked nervously.
“Yes, I’m afraid there will still be pruning. Even now, striking as you are, pruning is necessary for your continued growth. But I will be there in those times too.”
Just then, the shrub noticed a shepherd tending his flock.
The voice sounded as if it were smiling as it spoke, “But for now, I have something for you to do…”
The bush watched as fire colored its’ leaves, yet it wasn’t burning.
The Shepard took notice and began to walk toward him.
Confusion grew into excitement as the man drew nearer to him in amazement.
No one had ever looked at him in this way!
As the voice called to the man, the burning bush finally understood that there had been a bigger plan all along… he was just a part in it.
He thought back to how patient and loving the voice had been.
It had seen beauty when no one else could…
And it had believed in him when he’d doubted even himself.
As the sustained flames glowed, he listened as he heard Moses respond to the voice, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” the voice spoke. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
My roots are in holy ground…
Story taken from Exodus 3:1-5.
Concept taken from John 15:1-8
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