“You never know what you’re gonna get,” pretty much sums up my thought entering Spring. Not just the weather, although East Coast weather is crazy, am I right?! But more mysteriously in the not-so-manicured mulch beds right outside my door. I lay no claim to a green thumb and yet I keep expecting my next plant to survive this household of five humans, a dog, a horse, and a couple of super cute ducks. I wouldn’t go as far as saying everything dies, but everything surely does not live. These hands of tending are in progress and the learning curve is steep. I have come to discover that when it comes to gardening there is a disconnect from the enjoyment of beauty and the devotion in making that beauty come about.
As Spring unfurled here, excitement mounted to see what beauty from last year’s labor would come forth. With our dog’s nail clippers in hand…again, no claim of a green thumb…I set my eyes upon some mightily overgrown plants. It is a free for all, or so it seems. It all has to go is my thought. But as I pursued each plant with more individual care I saw the beauty that was woven into the mess of it all. When you are down on your hands and knees, up close and personal, you see the detail. The life is evident, beautiful – and worthy to be redeemed.
And because the Lord is good, He whispered His Word…
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
…in the dirt, in the midst of a whole lot of simple | tangled up bushes that wanted to push forth new life.
I want new life to push forth in me. I am tangled up. Grown weary and many times overcome by inadequacies but God is faithful and present. I am in need of pruning. And the counter-intuitive part is that I deeply desire the pruning. At times I fear it, run from it and hide. There is no wonder to me as to why Adam and Eve hid that day in the Garden. But knowing God and who He is gives me a desire to be cut off from what hinders transformation. He is trustworthy.
His Truth is alive in the mundane moment of life. I believe Jesus meant it to be that way from the moment these stories that breathed real, true, life came from His lips. So many everyday moments and experiences we have now lead us towards Him. Cutting back what was clearly dead and hindering growth made sense to me but to cut away the fruit of these plants, a symbol of life, was difficult. To prune back my garden meant to cut away some of the external beauty in order for a greater beauty to be witnessed. And in case we missed the scripture’s clarity here, all the (google) expert gardeners say it too. Prune it back and its fruit will increase.
The dead stuff…heck yeah, cut it off! But the fruits of my labor Lord, the ones you’ve allowed me to push out and display?! Those are harder to relinquish. Some of them were for just a season and He begins a new work. Some of them are false fruits, that will not last and will simply wither away. The Lord knows the plans He has for us. He cuts them off because He desires so much more for us. He desires our heart change, not simply behavior modification. He desires true sacrifice, not shallow giving. He desires our strengths to be used for His kingdom work and not the ways of this world. He desires glory. He desires to be revealed in all of His creation. He is glorified in the pruning of our hearts so a truer beauty may be seen – that He may be seen in us.
And because God knows our great need – He did not leave us alone. We are not pruned back to a lifeless shoot. The fruit may be temporarily cut off but we remain alive. In Christ|the Vine.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The pruning may be painful. The trials come and the outcome is often not as we expected. But our hope is not in our “fruits” but in the One who over time pushes forth new life in the midst of even the hardest seasons of pruning. Thankfully we have a God who does not have a disconnect between enjoying the beautiful work of His hands and the devotion in bringing it about. God could not love you more and He wrapped that love up in the sacrifice of His one and only Son. So that we may have One to rest in and remain in – all for others to see His fruit in us. His beloved and redeemed people.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
Seek the Lord in the midst of the pruning. Do not run. Do not hide. Wrestle if needed. Rest if needed. Lean in harder and pursue the source of all sustenance – Jesus. His promises are fulfilled. Mercies new each day. And always with you.
…and in a pinch, dog nail clippers do work well for pruning! ❤