The other day I cut away some of the branches of my potted rose-bush. A day or two later my green-thumbed husband looked out the living room window, espied the plant and asked what I had done. I explained – knowledgeably – that rose bushes have to be cut back once a year so they can really bloom.
“Looks extreme to me”, he said.
I took a peep through said window. Yikes! On second look the rose bush looked scalped. If she were a lady, she would have been down to her underwear . . . I had been a little exuberant with the knife. But I comforted myself. Three doors down from where I live is a dazzling garden, and my neighbour has several noteworthy rose bushes which she routinely prunes, and which bloom most gloriously. (She also does other things, of which I am clueless.)
I've often felt like my life has been reduced, stripped to the barest of bare essentials, and stuffed in a forgotten corner. Just getting by. Just enough to keep body and soul together. No frills or fripperies. No colour or pizzazz. Proletarian and obscure. (I will spare you the boredom of explaining what frills and fripperies were so important to me at that particular time. But trust me, being “frippery-less” was very difficult.)
I hated it.
One day during my self-imposed misery I happened upon John 15. Jesus was talking gardening. He was likening Himself to a vine, and the Father to a gardener. Then He said this:
“Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit” (vs 2 – 3, Ampl.).
I mulled over these two verses. If I was feeling extremely pruned there were two possibilities: One – I had stopped bearing fruit for Christ. Two – I had been bearing fruit for Christ. I was hoping it was the latter. I threw myself into the instruction in verse four: “Live in Me, and I will live in you”. I can't say I really knew what that meant, but I knew it was my lifeline. I would facilitate whatever the Gardener had in mind. “God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen our character and faith” (Life Application Bible).
I feel better about this whole pruning thing now than I did 12 years ago, or even 5 years ago. God gardens much better than yours truly.
But can I tell you? It's only been 3 weeks since the “Extreme Pruning” saga , and my rose bush is bursting with growth and color . . . and 10 new branches. Three weeks. Ten branches. Not bad at all. Can't wait to see the blooms!
Stay connected to the Vine.
This piece was written by Anthea Edalere-Gordon for the “Having Soul” segment on March 9 2013 for www.onhavingOvaries.com.