“He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist – as much as a mother of three can be. I find myself always purging, cutting back, and clearing out the unwanted mess in all areas of my life; my closets, my garden, my fridge, the toy room and even within my relationships.
Sometimes I wonder if this characteristic is a result of my early life experiences. In my primary years, the pruning that occured in my life wasn’t by my choice, but by God’s. I once had so much anger and hostility toward Him for all that I felt He was taking away from me – my mother, my family, my school, my friends, and my life as I knew it. I felt like it was all being cut away and out of my life for good. The pain and fear ran deep, along with bitterness and resentment; that is until God began revealing the purpose in His divine pruning of my life…a decade and a half later.
Though I grew up on a farm and worked in gardens from childhood on, I never translated the importance of pruning trees and plants into how God uses pruning in our lives to help us achieve greater spiritual growth and relationship with Him. Caretakers prune their plants with a purpose in mind, and the reasons vary. Some pruning is done to change or train a plant’s growth pattern. Some pruning is done to restrict growth that may otherwise cross unwanted boundaries. Other forms of pruning may be required to improve or maintain plant health, life, and quality. As we do with plants for these very reasons, so God also does with us.
His plan is never to harm us, but to prosper us.
In the moment, the pruning of my life hurt and it didn’t make sense. It didn’t seem fair, and it was completely uninvited. I had no way of knowing at the age of nine, what God was doing in my life and how this pruning season would, in fact, shape the very path I would walk for the rest of my life. In those early days, he was restricting the growth of certain relationships in my life, cutting away others, and preparing me for His purpose in my life.
Looking back, had most of these relationships not ended or become restricted, I can say with absolute confidence, I likely would not have taken Christ as my savior.
The pain of my past fueled my desire to seek out a higher truth, and the loss of my mother meant changing schools and meeting people that would plant seeds of Christ in my heart, and later meeting the very person who would introduce me to Jesus Christ. I can’t help but wonder what my story would look like, had my mother’s death not pivoted my life’s path thrusting me into new environments and new relationships.
While it never feels good, pruning is necessary if we desire growth.
When we allow God to work in us, we will experience the blessings when He chooses to work through us. Let God’s Holy Word be the sheers that tend to the garden of your heart. Continually draw near to Him and allow His word to shape, mold and direct your path of growth, knowing that He desires you be firmly rooted in Christ Jesus.