Spiritual Growth, Rose Bushes & Good Old Fashioned Pruning! - Daily Devo, May 2, 2016
My wife and I planted a rose bush when we first moved into our new house. It was one of those things that we bought on a whim when we were purchasing plants and flowers for our patio. So, we planted it and watered it, but we didn't expect a whole lot out of it, to be honest. We'd never tried growing roses before, you see.
To our surprise, it started blooming. And not just blooming, but really blooming. My wife immediately started pruning it, clipping off the blooms, shaping the little bush a bit as well. I had no idea about these things, but apparently if you want your roses to bloom and to thrive, you have to keep it properly trimmed. Pruning allows the buds to flourish, and the stems grow stronger as a result.
Jesus used a similar analogy when he was trying to teach his disciples about what it meant to be his true follower. He told them "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardner." Jesus went on to tell them, "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." (John 15:1-2)
Pruning is counterintuitive. To cut back, to seemingly hurt a plant in order to help it grow doesn't make a whole lot of sense, unless you understand how the growth process works. Pruning enables the plant to not waste valuable energy on things that aren't going to strengthen it, and prepare it for the future.
In the same way, there are sometimes things in our life that need to be pruned, cut away in order for us to experience the fullness of life in Jesus.
Maybe our pride gets in the way of full following Jesus. We think we can handle our own business without any help at all--that we've got it all under control. Perhaps we need to have our anger trimmed as well. Some of us live in a constant state of agitation, just waiting to explode. Many of us need worry and fear pruned. We spend way too much time dreading the future to experience the present.
Or maybe we need to just simply have some of the distractions of this life cut away so we can grow to focus more fully on Jesus, and Jesus alone. God knows there are so many of them out there competing for our attention.
It doesn't always feel all that great when the pruning process is taking place. Having these things that we've held on to for so long finally removed can be painful. In order to endure the necessary pain of pruning, we need to hold on to the words that Jesus shared with his disciples:
"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:8)
May you embrace your life in Jesus today--even the parts of your life where pruning and trimming might be happening. May you find the strength to trust that these things that are being cut away are for your good and for the glory of God. And may the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.