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Posts Tagged ‘pruning’

It’s spring in the South so that means I am busy in the yard.  One task that was always low on my list of spring tasks was pruning the plants.  I wasn’t fond of loping off part of a living plant.  I also wasn’t very confident that I was doing it correctly.  Finally, I wasn’t sure it was all that important.  I mean plants in the wild don’t have somebody coming through and pruning them do they?  As I’ve grown in my gardening skills and lived a number of years, I’ve come to not just practice pruning because I have to, but to value it and even look forward to the opportunity to give the essential care that pruning provides.  And I’ve learned pruning isn’t just good for the plants in my yard.  Pruning is good for me too.

My introduction to pruning was as a young lad working the family garden with my Dad.  We often grew a number of tomato plants and Dad taught me that we had to pinch off the “suckers” in the crotches of the tomato branches.  It seems that as the plant grows it will focus it’s energy into making more and more branches and more leaves, but at the expense of producing fruit.  By removing the suckers we are encouraging the plant to produce the tomatoes it was made for.

That made sense so I have always pinched the suckers on my tomato plants, but I didn’t really see the connection with a lot of my other plants.  Later we had some roses and I noticed that the first year they looked very nice all season long.  The second year not so much.  As the third season rolled around I read about pruning my roses.  It said I could remove up to 1/3 of the plants growth in pruning and that I should focus upon sick, damaged, and dead wood.  Well I set out carefully making small snips here and there removing the material that fit that definition.  It was extremely time consuming.  I also got pricked more than once.  And after I had finished a rose bush it didn’t look much different than when I started.

My wife came out after I had finished about half the bushes and she asked what I was doing.  When I told her, she said, “Oh, I know how to prune roses, but that’s not how you do it.”  After I explained to her what I had read she responded in her usual, loving way, “Yeah, but that not how you do it.  Why don’t you go get the ones around the side of the house and I will finish these in the front.”  I was all for getting a little help.  As I walked around the house I wondered what was left to do.

I hadn’t finished the first of the rose bushes on the side of the house when Lisa came around the corner with hedge shears in her hand and said she was through.  Alarm bells went off as I noticed the crooked grin on her face and the way she said she was through.  As I rushed to the front I saw piles of rose bush clippings scattered everywhere and the roses I had labored over for over an hour had been reduced to just a few stems and leaves.  Horrified at how this mangled mess of roses now looked, I suddenly realized I had left my wife alone… with the hedge shears… by the defenseless roses on the side of the house.  I ran back just in time to see her finish massacring the last of the roses.  I was stunned.  She stood up with pieces of rose leaves in her hair and on her shirt, put her hand on her hip and asked, “Well, what do you think?”  “You’ve killed our roses,” was all I could say.

Four weeks later the roses were more beautiful than they had ever been.  I couldn’t believe it.  I learned a lesson that season.  Pruning can invigorate plants that look healthy and good, but have so much more to offer.

While my wife provided a practical lesson in the benefits of pruning, I realize that this is exactly what Jesus told us in John 15:1-2.  “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.  Jesus told us these same principles apply in our lives.  As I reflect back over my life, I can see so many ways in which I have been pruned.  I mentioned in my last post about losing my job a year ago.  That was a time of extreme pruning that I am now so thankful for.

A difference between people and plants is that we can be more active participants in the pruning process.  Lent, this season of anticipation as we approach Easter, is a wonderful time to ask the Father what might be appropriate to remove from our lives.  Some things that come to mind is any number of addictive behaviors, poor eating habits, or excessive social media.  Another area where God wants us to join Him in the pruning process might be in relationships.  A lesson I have learned is that not every person we meet is someone we should build a relationship with.  There are toxic relationships that we need to avoid or are not to remain in.  This type of pruning is often among the most difficult, but also the most beneficial for all involved.

When I mention this, it is important to realize that the person with whom we would have a toxic relationship with, can have a meaningful relationship with the person God chooses.  Our staying in a toxic relationship just might be the thing that prevents them and us, from moving forward in our lives.  Note, this is not about leaving a marriage, but rather any number of other relationships including dating, work, and other social interactions.  In marriage, it is important to realize that our priority relationship is with our spouse, so pruning will occur to build a stronger and healthier marriage.

I remember one working relationship that I had where God used pruning in an amazing way.  Early in my career I worked for Mr. R for about a year before I was promoted into another area.  Mr. R was a rather big personality.  He could be a schmoozer when he needed your help, but he was a rather cantankerous individual on many occasions.  Within a few years I was promoted again and now I had Mr. R working for me.  In my new role, the big personality that was merely a distraction when I worked with him, became a serious thorn in my side as a member of my team.  We worked together for about 6 years and there were so many times when he pushed me to my limits.  Interestingly, God wouldn’t let me stop loving this man even though he frustrated me to death.  I distinctly remember leaving a confrontation with him one day heading to my office as angry as I ever remember being.  I was going to begin official discipline.  But as I got to the stairwell, the Spirit of God overwhelmed me with love for this man, even while I was still stewing over his impertinence.  Prayer and serious pleading with God ensued.  Interestingly, it was not long after this that Mr. R retired.  A pruning occurred.  But that is not the end of the story.  While he was out of my life, the hours of prayer and sharing the faith had not been in vain.  Mr. R found himself in a serious life crisis a few years later and in the midst of this, he came to faith.  We renewed our relationship and I was blessed to find that God had worked a miracle in his life.  He was a new man.

Pruning is now one of the first chores I tackle each spring.  I realize it accomplishes more than I ever imagined.  And if I sense the Father pointing to areas in me that need pruning, I don’t pull back any longer.  I submit to His good work.  “Lord, you are the Master Gardener.  Accomplish Your good and perfect will in me.  Prune in the manner I need.  To You be the glory!”  

Be blessed today and be a blessing!

 

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