Thursday, January 15, 2015

Prune This Soul

Sometimes I sit in the garden. These rare, precious moments when everything is still and I have a second to absorb it all....

We moved here last January. Rushed but hopeful and looking forward to a new beginning. The house is quaint and cozy. The yard is humongous. It just stretches on and on with trees and space. The most striking of all of the trees is the avocado tree. She expands her arms to cover an enormous length of yard and she bears beautiful, delicious fruit. How I long to be as fruitful as she....

Beyond this is the back backyard. A forgotten and run-down, tree trunk-filled, barren land that sat empty for 10 years. Many looking at this neglected yard might (and did) see something useless; something requiring much too much time and effort. My husband saw potential. His eyes lit up at the possibility of a new task. This awesome, God-given gift of gardening. I really don't believe that any other hobby on earth so reflects God's purposes for man quite like gardening. It makes sense. Adam was placed in the garden to work it. God saw that it was good. We were given this deserted field to work it. We can see that it is good

My man spent weeks back there, sweating away. Carrying log after log until they were stacked neatly along the side of the old garage. Most of them had to be dug out of the dirt in order to be moved. How much am I like these old logs? Clinging to the dirt and mud, buried in it. How much like the overlooked yard? Requiring much too much work to be what and who I should be. But, like my husband with our garden, God sees what I can be. God stooped low and made Himself like me. He found pleasure in it! He wooed me and I welcomed Him in and isn't that when the work begins? Slowly and gently He prepares His garden. My husband did the same. Methodically and continuously he worked. He toiled and tilled and planted and watered. God, in His infinite grace and constant lavishing of gifts, blessed the work of his hands. Those seeds grew!! So incredibly fast and full of life. This back backyard is no longer forgotten.

And isn't it the same with me? With my heart? I read it this morning:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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."

My Father is the gardener. 

Gardening seems simple. It is not. We put in a lot of work. We were amazed by the return. I attributed most of the growth to the fact that the land had been virtually unused for a decade. I also find my man to be blessed by God so I thought that this was just another one of the many gifts from God to my hubby. I have no doubt that those things played a part in the amazing growth but I noticed something else. These plants were so fickle! One day they looked great and the next day, they were falling over. This was frustrating and puzzling to me and so I began to do what most of us do whenever we want to know more about something: I Googled. To my complete surprise, there were whole articles on pruning ONE type of produce! Multiple articles even! Tomatoes are pruned and watered one way while artichokes and pumpkins are trimmed and hydrated in a completely different manner. I realize that this may be obvious to some but, to me, this was a revelation! I began at once reading about all the different shearing I should be doing to our garden and promptly passed that info along to my husband. (I delegate things really well! ;0) Besides, this was his hobby, I was helping with it...) Our growing garden grew tall and is anything but simple.....

And so, sitting in the garden, I felt my Father speak to my heart. These verses came to mind and I realized that pruning is trimming back. Pruning is cutting. Not to hurt. Never to hurt but always to grow. Always to make room for the branches in me that bear fruit. And even though His intention is not to hurt, sometimes it does. Only for as long as it needs to. He wastes nothing. He is never purposeless. He grows me and enables me to be more fruitful. This growth cannot be done apart from Christ. Christ in me is His Spirit in me and His Spirit enables me to bear spiritual fruit. And these fruits are to be apparent in each believer. Just as pumpkins and oranges are pruned differently so also each believer is pruned differently. The Father cuts off branches in me that do not bear fruit and those branches are not the same branches that He needs to cut off in others. Either way, He makes space in hearts and lives for the best, most abundant fruit. This is something that I can be sure of. I have discovered it. I have witnessed in my own life and in the lives of those around me, who abide in Christ, an abundance that is beyond comprehension. An abundance of love. An abundance of joy. An abundance of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) An abundance of spiritual fruit that cannot be obtained outside of Christ and in gardens that, by human logic, should be fruitless. The Father is The Gardener. Nothing that He cultivates is useless. No one who abides in Christ is forgotten. On the contrary, I am already clean because of the Word He spoke to me. In me. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Thus, I realize that perching in the garden, pondering my Lord, is exactly where I should be. Soaking it all in, these unique and cherished bits in time.