Faith

Why there is power in pruning

I am no gardener. One look at my forgotten borders will tell you that. However once or twice a year I will get a sudden surge of enthusiasm to trim edges and plant bulbs in the hope that something beautiful will burst forth in the summer months. So, it is of little surprise to me that my blooms are never anywhere near as impressive as those of my neighbours, who have lovingly tended them.

We have a lovely rose bush in our garden that is climbing up a trellis, and one year my mother in law cut every single flowering head off and put them in a vase. As beautiful as they were on my windowsill, I was horrified that she had butchered my beloved rose bush. I was convinced that my plant would not survive the massacre, much less ever flower again that year, yet the roses came back three fold a few months later.

I had never understood the importance of pruning until now. You see pruning isn’t just a way to control growth, it is the way to increase it. By pruning a rose, you cause the plant to produce a growth hormone called auxin which helps it to grow to its optimum. Pruning strengthens the very vines that connect it to its life source, the stem, so that when they grow and flower they are able to bear much larger, heavier blooms.

Pruning isn’t just a way to control growth, it is the way to increase it

2017 was a year of pruning for me. We voluntarily stepped back from ministry as we focussed on our family, but the stepping away felt more like stripping away. Who was I if I wasn’t a worshipper on the platform? Who was I if I wasn’t a pastoral leader looking out for our area? Or preaching on a Wednesday morning?  Who was I if I wasn’t ‘known’ or ‘seen’ by others? I truly believe that my heart to serve has always been from a place of authenticity, and a desire to make Jesus famous, not myself. But when all the ‘stuff’ was stripped away, I felt exposed, vulnerable and a little lost.

I am a ‘do-er’ by nature. My strength finders list includes activator and achiever, and I like to muck in and get my hands dirty. Even being a stay at home mom, my ultimate life dream isn’t enough, and I run two businesses to keep my mind busy and my bank account in the black. My husband says I can’t sit still for two minutes and he is right. I am constantly flitting from one thing to another, and frequently have two or three tasks on the go at any one time much to his annoyance. But as I gradually reduced my tasks and increased my time, panic crept in.

Don’t panic in the pruning

Stepping away from gifts that I loved was like watching the full blooms of my roses being cut down. I know they are still there, but I wanted them to be connected to the vine, not placed in a vase. I never feel more alive than when I am serving in the house of God, either in worship, preaching or in pastoral care, and I found myself frustrated at serving in my home instead. The pruning season felt painful; I didn’t feel free, I felt like a fish out of water. No longer ‘busy’, I had too much time on my hands and too many thoughts in my mind. I found myself questioning my destiny, my purpose, God’s plans, and during these times of sadness and self-pity I was forced to sit and be still.

Be still and know that God loves me.

Be still and know that I am loved regardless of how or where I serve. That I am perfectly positioned in His will, right here, right now. That my purpose in the Kingdom of God is as important on a platform as it is in a playdate. That my service to my children and my husband is as valuable as any song I could ever sing, or any sermon I could ever write.

And as I rest in the stillness, the pruning season will ensure that my branches are stronger than ever so that I can grow new shoots and produce better blooms.

Pruning prepares for producing

I don’t know what season this finds you in. Perhaps your blooms are budding, waiting to explode in glorious technicolour, maybe you are already in flower, displaying your gifts and fragrancing the world with your own unique aroma, or perhaps your petals are beginning to wane, and you are bracing yourself for the dead-heading. Wherever you are, know that God is working. He is cultivating the ground where you are planted. He is watering the seeds of your faith. He is tending to your shoots and leaves, and He is removing the dead-heads so that they don’t block the Son.  You are standing in the light of Jesus, connected to the vine, and as the ultimate gardener, He will remove what isn’t necessary to strengthen you for the next season.

Don’t panic in the pruning, you are being prepared to bring forth beauty.

Go ahead and bloom like never before.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 

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Faith

Don’t Fade; Flourish

  
I love fresh flowers in my home. I love the scent that welcomes me as I walk through the door and the sight of the delicate petals unfolding day by day. 
Flowers evoke a sense of home for me,  they suggest thought and consideration of a homemaker who has a love of the outdoors and a desire to appreciate beautiful things. 

I am a proud homemaker. I love nothing more than when people enter my home and comment on my interior decor or the warm welcoming atmosphere that I have  so carefully crafted. 

But sometimes an atmosphere in a home can be just that. Crafted. 

Sometimes we work so hard to make our lives look perfect, seem attractive and smell fragrant. But there comes a time when the flowers start to wither, the dying petals crispen and the once clear water becomes discoloured and pungent. 

There is only so long that the flowers can look good and smell good before they die. And it is no use stripping the dead leaves and keeping the blooms in the vase in the hope that the dried buds will  have the same allure as the fresh floral offering that was once so proudly displayed. The stagnant water will belie the beauty, and just like our lives there is only so long that we can keep up appearances before the fragrance of our frailty follows suit.

There is no harm in wanting to create a beautiful life. There is no shame in being a little proud and not wanting to wilt in full view of everyone. But there is a fine line between displaying beauty and masking the truth. 

If you have struggles, dark days or simply areas of your life that you can’t seem to shake off, please know that you are not alone. The Bible says that we are fragile, that our lives are like the flowers blowing in the the breeze, whose petals bloom and fall with the seasons. 

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. Psalm 103:15

There are seasons in our lives when we will bloom and some when we will go to seed. There are seasons for planting and seasons for pruning. Embrace the season you are in, don’t fight the circumstances around you but instead focus on the fight working you. 

There is a battle being fought for your soul each and every day. God has His angel armies warring in the heavenlies for you, His Holy Spirit is desperate for your heart. He wants to bestow blessings on you, He wants to lavish you with love and affection and He needs to both plant and prune you in order for you to fulfil your potential.

Flowers flourish best when they are planted not placed in vases. It is in good fertile soil, that is well watered that they become nourished and bloom brilliantly over and over again. 

Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish. Psalm 92:13

Furthermore, flowers that are planted continue to bloom. Over and over again. Every time they flower and fade, they are cut back and carefully nurtured in order to facilitate their floral return, bigger and better than before.

Wherever you are at right now, don’t panic, simply plant your roots in Gods word and in His house and you will flourish.

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