Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Don't Like To Garden

            Right around this time of year I remind myself why I don’t like gardening. I don’t like the heat, the bugs, or to be brutally honest, the work of having to continually pull weeds. But, every spring my husband talks me into planting another garden and I find myself hunched over tomato plants, picking zucchinis and complaining about how much I dislike gardening. It is about this time of year when I start to give up on the whole thing and neglect starts to overtake my garden.
I am ashamed to admit it....but this is part of my garden. 
            My spiritual life can relate to my garden lately. These past few weeks have been really hard on me. My daughter was married this past Saturday July 2nd here at our home. Starting at the beginning of June my life was overtaken by everything wedding. My spiritual life got put on the shelf while I planned, crafted and purchased the wedding my daughter dreamed of. Now that all the work is done, I find my heart full of weeds and useless limbs that need to be cut off. My heart looks a lot like my tomato plants, wild and unruly, unappealing and unhealthy.

            These past few weeks I have felt a hand upon me, holding me down. I don’t really know how to describe it, other than a heaviness holding tightly to me. I can’t seem to move or breath very easily lately, and my desire to be in His Word has waned. I was talking to a sister in the Lord last evening about this feeling of being weighted down and the word “Pruned” came into my heart. As I walked around my garden last evening I realized that God was trying to prune my life. This hand upon me is Him. He is holding me down so He can take away all these useless limbs that have shot out of my life these past few weeks.
            “I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 ESV  
            Pruning is a process that takes away dead limbs to make a plant look more appealing to the eye. Pruning corrects potential problems that may occur if the unnecessary shoots are not take care of. Pruning also promotes strong and healthy plants, encouraging them to grow. Pruning helps a plant grow the way God created it to grow and bloom and produce fruit. Much like my garden my spiritual life these past few weeks has gotten out of control. I have useless shoots that need to come off, dead limbs that need to be trimmed and my heart has become a little wild with unconfessed sin. I need to be pruned.
            But pruning hurts. When you prune a plant you cut it. You take shears to its limbs and remove what is not needed or what is hindering your plant from growing. If you have ever cut back a plant or pruned a tree, right after you make the cut there is sap, water or moisture still running through it. It’s because it was attached to the main plant. Even though it might be useless or hindering the plant from growing to its full potential it is still a part of the life of that plant. Even though the useless limbs are harming the plant, the plant is still trying to keep life flowing through it. The plant does not want to willingly give up the limb.
            I have a couple areas of my life that I am certain the Lord wants to prune away. They are not bad or sinful, but they have no usefulness in my life, nor do they bear any fruit. They tend to pull more energy from my life than they should. They need to be pruned. But I keep holding onto them, giving them life, struggling to keep them alive, fighting against the pruning shears that only seek to help me grow even stronger than I am now.
One of my poor, neglected tomato plants. 
            God, my Father, my Vinedresser sees the unruly areas of my life and He wants to prune them away. To do this He must bend back some healthy branches to get to the ones you can’t really see. He has to bend me, tie me to another branch to support me, cut me up and reshape me so that I may continue to grow into the vine He has created me to be. The reason why I am struggling is because I don’t like to be pruned. It hurts. I don’t want to let go of these useless branches, even though they are fruitless. I still want them to stay attached so I continue to give them some of my life, my energy and my time. He has told me, asked me and shown me how these areas of my life are barren and fruitless, but I still want them to remain a part of my life. I don’t want to give them up just yet. But, in truth, they are hindering my growth. If I don’t allow Him to make the necessary cuts in my life I am going to end up just like my tomato plants; unruly, wild and unfruitful. What fruit is growing on them is rotting before maturity and is useless to us all.
            God did not promise that this Christian life would be easy, and He never promised that it wouldn’t hurt. But He does promise to be our Vinedresser who carries with Him pruning shears of love. God wants our best and He desires to give us His best all the time. He desires to give us the best possible future, the best possible path to become fruitful plants growing for His glory. The only way to get there however, is to undergo the cutting of His pruning shears.

            I don’t know where you are at today, but maybe like me you have let your garden get a little out of control. Maybe like me the Lord is holding you down so He can prune away all that is hindering your growth. Don’t struggle, don’t fight, just let Him do what needs to be done and rejoice while He does it. He loves you too much to let you become unruly and unfruitful. He loves you too much to let you become a wild vine. He loves you too much to let you be overtaken. Humble yourself under His mighty hand and let Him prune you where you need it. If you are not sure what areas He wants to prune, I encourage you today to spend some time in His presence. Seek His hand upon your life and ask Him to show you the useless limbs that you are still clinging to. He will prune you, and you will bear fruit for His glory in the end. Amen?