Springtime and the gardening season is finally upon us. I know millions of people are thrilled to be out from under the mountains of snow that inundated them for most of the winter. Our thoughts are turning from the desolate, depressing gray winter to warmer, colorful flower filled days. I’m a gardener and I love the spring. I enjoy the feel of dirt running through my fingers as I prepare the soil for planting. Part of my springtime prep also involves pruning. In North Carolina, we have Crepe Myrtle trees which need pruning each year. When these trees are in bloom they are absolutely stunning with huge clusters of brilliant flowers. The trick to having successful trees is the yearly pruning. The branches are cut way back and dead, unproductive stems are removed. The tree looks horrid and naked, when the cutting is done, but it won’t last because in a few months it will be alive with verdant green leaves and stunning clumps of magenta, crimson or white blooms. The pruning produces beauty.
In John 15, Jesus talks to his disciples about pruning and uses the illustration of grapevines. In order to have abundant clusters of grapes, the farmer must prune the vines and remove the dead branches in order to provide adequate nourishment for the stems capable of producing fruit. He carefully examines the twigs and if he sees they are producing even a little fruit he will prune the stem to encourage more growth.
If you are experiencing trials and difficulties in your life, it is God pruning you to encourage growth in your Christian life. It is a cause for rejoicing because even if you’re producing only a little fruit God believes you are capable of more and he is working on removing those things in your life which hinder your growth. I have been going through a pruning season in my life. God is removing every safety net from my life in order that I might learn to trust him. My faith was so superficial but the pruning process has deepened my belief in my heavenly father. It is not pleasant but it is vital. I don’t want to be a dead branch God cuts and throws away.
Our desire, as Christians, should be to become fruit producers and this requires pruning. God will remove those dead items in our lives which hinder growth. As long as God sees evidence of life, he will do what is necessary to create abundance. Don’t despise these times but thank God he considers you worth pruning.
We have two dogs. Our oldest dog, Chalupa the Chihuahua, is 14 years old. I think he’s getting senile in his old age and there are days I get extremely frustrated with him for one simple reason: he leaves “piles” in the house. When he gets up in the morning, I let him out immediately and he takes care of his business and I am very pleased. However, within five minutes of letting him back into the house he will find a spot and deposit a nice little present for me. Unfortunately, I am not amused and will scold him. I get so, so aggravated with this daily routine. But, its only been occurring frequently within the past year and I know its because he’s old but its still a huge annoyance.
This morning, I let him out with our other dog, Maizey, and he went and I thought maybe I’ll catch a break this morning. I let him back in while I stayed outside in the sunshine with Maizey for a few minutes. Well, I went back inside and discovered not one but three piles!! I was livid and yelling as I cleaned them up and scrubbed the carpet. “Why, God??” I grumbled extremely loudly. “Why do I have to clean up this poop every day??”
Poor Chalupa cowered his head in shame as he watched me clean up his mess. I felt bad and exasperated at the same time.
This event coincided with my morning devotions and I sat down ready to learn something profound. I confessed my short temper and bad attitude and that is when God showed me the meaning of “the piles”. I have a few bad habits I’m trying to break and I have great intentions and pray for God’s help in beating them. I will go for awhile doing good but then I turn around and leave “a pile”–I return to the same bad habit again. Not once or twice but over and over.
God was showing me my lack of self-control was as obnoxious as those piles on my carpet. How many times can I pray and ask for God’s help but still give in to my weakness? God expects more of me.
What piles are you leaving on the carpet of your life? Do you ask for God’s help in learning self-control? God doesn’t shame us when we fail but expects us to work toward the goal of becoming the people he wants us to be. 1 Corinthians 12:9 tells us God’s grace is sufficient in our times of weakness. His strength can carry us if we truly trust him. Instead of leaving piles, let’s be victorious over those habits which weaken us.