We were outside working in the yard the other day. And by we, I mean Hayes. What was I doing you ask? I was supervising. Or as I like to call it “keeping him company”. We were outside getting ready to put up some Christmas lights and noticed that one of our plants in front of the house was a little out of control. And by a little, I mean twice as big as the others, maybe even three times as big. So, Hayes did what all men like to do, he got out an electric trimmer thingy. That’s the technical word for it, I just know it. And he went to work.
Before we knew it, there was a pile of the clippings and our three times as big plant was down to the size it needed to be. Or at least as much down to size as it could be at that point. You see, when Hayes started trimming he realized that the more he trimmed the more he could see inside the bush. It wasn’t a solid bush. It looked that way from the outside. It looked as if you could just prune and trim until it was the size we wanted it to be. It looked full on the outside, but in actuality, the inside of the plant was just sticks. And if he would have kept pruning and trimming it would have had no green life left to it at all.
This teaches us something about pruning and how important it is. Had we stayed on top of pruning this plant and keeping it at the size we wanted it to be it would not have gotten out of control. The inside wouldn’t have been somewhat taken over by the dead branches. Pruning is crucial for the overall health of the plant. Part of pruning is getting rid of the unproductive branches. The branches that have leaves also need to be cut back. But left alone the outside appearance is one that shows a healthy vibrant plant, but on the inside there is a lot of dead stuff that needs to be removed.
There is a spiritual principle here. The same goes for us, we have to be pruned. Jesus said in John 15:
“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
Pruning is no fun, it typically reveals sin and deadness in our life. It’s usually messy and hurts. But it is crucial in our life. If we want to be a fruit producing branch in the kingdom of God then we have to let the Father prune us. We need Him to cut back the plastic front that we have on to reveal the true nature on the inside. As we enter into the Christmas season our prayer is that you would take at least some of the downtime and get into God’s word. Be intentional and ask God to prune you as you explore His word. Let’s all start 2018 with the dead stuff gone, and a desire to follow God’s call in our life.
Have you ever felt that way? Like the Lord was pruning you and if He didn’t stop there would be nothing left? Maybe you are in that season right now. Maybe you are in the season of waiting while He prunes. You know what? Me too. That’s my season, my pruning season. And, although it’s hard, it’s a good season. I want the Lord to prune me. I know that He is preparing me for something that He has created me for. And, I know that even in the pruning season, He is using me. He is using me right where I am.
Some of you may be asking yourself why in the world would the Lord prune me? Why would he make me wait? Why would he put me through something that isn’t so pleasant sometimes? The answer: because He is good. Because He is faithful to complete the good work he has started in you, and me. I don’t want to stay the way I am. I want to grow and deepen my faith. I want that, but not the pruning. But, that goes hand in hand sometimes. Most of the time. Just like my plant, it wasn’t pretty. It was so big that it was taking over the front of the house. It was so big that when you looked that direction, your eyes went straight to the big plant, not the other four. You could visibly see the others but your eyes went to the big one. It stole the attention. And I think that’s what I’m learning, even as I type this. I don’t want to be the one the steals the spotlight. I don’t want to grow so big in myself that when you look my direction all you see is me. When people look my direction or at my life I want the focus, what they see, to be Jesus. Not Elizabeth.
Just like my plant, though, I feel like sticks inside sometimes. Empty. Not emotionally or physically or even spiritually empty. I feel a calling in my life that’s not ready for me yet. But, for now, I will be pruned. I will be joyful in this season because I know He is faithful and He is worthy of my pruning. He is worthy of my calling and I want to fulfill that to the best of my ability, and only He can do that through me.
It’s important to evaluate how we react during a season of pruning. In order for us to allow the Lord to fully prune us we have some things to do. We need to surrender, pray, be transparent, and pray some more. We need to say, with confidence, that we need to be pruned. We have to surrender that we are not in control but we are ok with that. In fact, we don’t want to be in control. We need to be prayerful. We need to pray that the Lord will reveal to us what He wants us to learn. And, we need to be in prayer to not fall into discontentment. We need to be transparent with our biblical community. That means we need to voice to those we trust what is going on in our lives. Those people, our biblical community, are so important. They will encourage, give wisdom and pray with you and over you. And, if needed, they will hold you accountable. And do you know what we need to do next? We then need to pray more.
Let’s pray for Him to prune us until He sees fit that we are pruned to where we need to be. And then, spring will come and green life will flow. And when others look at our lives, they will see new growth. They will see Him. The faithful one. The one who brings life. The one who is faithful to complete a good work in you, and me.
Men, we know about pruning right. If you are like me you hate doing it. You know why I hate it so bad? It is so dadgum messy. All those clippings fall and they have to be cleaned up. Typically pruning is done in the fall when there are leaves on the ground. This always meant that it was a domino effect. I would prune something and the trimmings would fall in the yard, which usually was still covered with leaves. So as I cleaned up the trimmings it meant I had to clean up the leaves. The only thing I hate more than pruning is cleaning up leaves. Uggh.
I think we are the same way when it comes to allow God to prune us as men. We know that when we allow God to come in and get rid of some of the dead parts of our life then that means we have to take action. Maybe we have to have a conversation with someone, ask for forgiveness, or get rid of an idol in our life. And no matter how “holy” we try to act, idols are hard to give up, otherwise they wouldn’t be an idol. Sometimes this can get messy. Sometimes this means we have to deal with stuff we have never dealt with. We have to confess something that we have never confessed, or admit something we have always vowed never to admit. We know that when we do that life is going to get messy, relationships will get strained, and our perfect plastic persona will be smashed.
But let’s be honest, those things are dead things in our life. And the dead things are choking out the fruit producing branches. Which typically means we are producing minimal fruit, if any. If you are believer in Jesus this weighs on us, it makes us tired. It’s exhausting isn’t it? Having the Holy Spirit inside of you telling you to worship your creator and make disciples and we keep ignoring it and letting the dead things in our life have control. Let God prune you. Always. Get rid of the dead things, start producing fruit. It may get messy, but the glory of Jesus is so much bigger than our trimmings. Man up and be real with yourself, your spouse, your pastor, and whoever else you need to be honest with. It sounds crazy, but in the midst of the mess, the gunk, you will find rest in HIS GLORY.