The robins have appeared and more and more warm days are being recorded. Even though a snow storm is brewing now, winter is just a dead man walking. Spring has come and I can declare that winter will no longer be able to stop all the new life abounding. Just yesterday, at a nice 48 degrees, I finally had a day where the weather and my energy levels cooperated enough to allow me to prune my bushes and plants around the house; a job that had not been accomplished in the fall due to my illness. I was so excited to see that colorful sprouts were already forming and I found some new green growth of the daisies that my son had helped me plant last year when I was too weak. I knew that pruning would be necessary to help them mature into even better plants this year.
I have learned that pruning is an important part of preparing plants for healthy growth.
According to Garden.com “pruning is done to remove parts of the plant that are not longer useful. There are many reasons why these parts might no longer benefit the plant. Some reasons are functional and will improve the health of the plant. Other reasons are purely aesthetic and will enhance or change the look of the plant. Either way pruning can be a form of art if it is done well and results in a healthier, more attractive specimen.”
I love having beautiful flowers and healthy bushes in my yard but I am not a master gardener by any means. However, I have learned through years of both failure and success at gardening that in preparation for the spring season I must get rid of the old parts of the plant so they will be able to support any new growth. I learned that the plants need my help preparing them to put their energy into developing strong roots instead of just growing sprouts that they cannot support. Though pruning can seem a bit harsh, without it the plants will not last through the winds and storms of life. This truth in nature seems to flow over into my spiritual life as I sense I have certainly been pruned over the last year.
I believe I have been pruned to prepare me for the season ahead.
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2
Just as God created seasons in the natural world, He also seems to have seasons in the spiritual world. Each season is important and will prepare us for the next. Though a winter-type season is typically hard and lacks fruitfulness, its lessons prepare us for the new life to come. The pruning I have experience in this winter season of my life is going to produce a much greater harvest in the future. I found as I physically pruned my bushes this week that God started to reveal one of the ways He has pruned me.
My dependence on myself instead of God has been pruned.
It was during a season change about a year ago that I found myself fully engulfed in chronic pain and illness. With it came the cutting off of many of my abilities and most of the activities I had relied on. You see, over my life I had developed the habit of too much self-reliance in order to prove myself to be enough (this new understanding of not being enough will be addressed in a future post). I would think or even say that I relied on God but found myself turning to things I could provide myself, like my favorite foods, coffee, or the things I could buy with my own income to build myself up. God understood that the temporary nature of all of those things would only stunt my growth and they needed to go. God sometimes chooses some painful ways to show us that no shallow earthly thing is going to be enough to bring us the growth necessary to be who He made us to be. Because of His incredible love, God will gently prune those harmful parts of our lives. Each day my self-reliance is being cut away and I am learning to put my dependence on God, the true source of all I need.
My branch of self-reliance is being thrown on the burn pile.
I am glad to report that my roots of reliance on God are much deeper than they were a year ago. A large pile of branches of unbelief and some mind-sets that that no longer benefited me have been cut out and burned away during many painful days. Now faith and truth have much more room to grow. With each pruning comes healing and hope for the future. Just this past weekend another one of the lies that had been grafted in my life as a child was finally snipped off and replaced by a new shoot of truth to live by and more hope and healing has come. Though some of those pruned places are still pretty raw, tender and not much to look at yet, I know the new growth they allow will be supported by deeper roots of faith and are much more ready to withstand any storms that lie ahead.
I know that the results of this pruning will bring new beauty and strength.
Just as I look forward to seeing the beautiful flowers that will come from those ugly but freshly pruned bushes, I look forward to the beauty and strength God will grow in my life from the ugly but freshly pruned parts. The pain of pruning will result in a healthier, more attractive specimen.
Thanks to that pruning I feel much more prepared for the next season God has planned for me!