In the heat of the summer, we had escaped to the mountains of western North Carolina. During one of those days, while strolling through the bonsai exhibition at The North Carolina Arboretum, my husband and I came across an inspiring plaque entitled “The Truth About Bonsai.” My thoughts focused on God’s consideration of me as I read the following excerpt:
“Based on a one-on-one relationship between a person and a plant, it requires practice, persistence and patience. Bonsai gardeners lovingly tend to their subjects, and the plants respond with health and beauty. The art of bonsai is a study in vitality, produced by the thoughtful and careful management of perpetual growth.” (Arthur Joura, Bonsai Curator, The North Carolina Arboretum)
I envision God nurturing us, His children, with great love and patience. As He meticulously tends to us, He knows that in order for us to be productive, aspects of our lives will need either cutting back or entire removal. Jesus, while speaking to his disciples, declares, “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.” (John 15:1-2, NIV)
This necessary pruning by our Lord is what brings about productive maturity in our lives.
God’s pruning may involve saying no to the larger house and yes to the downsized version so there will be more money available for regular expenses and ministry. It may involve saying no or slow down to a whirlwind social calendar in order to concentrate on your family or on developing some true relationships. It may involve turning off the TV allowing you to devote time to reading the Bible. It may involve watching your words to allow your life to reflect the Lord. Or, it may simply involve saying no to another pair of shoes since you already have more than enough, and God wants your attention right now.
Personally, when I feel a tugging in my spirit or when a verse jumps off a Bible page at me, I know God has something to say. When I clutter my life with too many nonessentials, I’m unable to discern what that is. When I find I don’t have time for Bible reading and study, writing these devotions I know He’s called me to create, or for the ministries He prepared in advance for me to do it’s time to take a hard look at what is filling my time. When I’m busy with activities, fatigued from the day, and don’t have the energy to devote some time to my husband or grandchildren, then something is off-kilter. That’s when God is nudging me to allow Him to prune and redirect my life.
My desire is to live the abundant life God has designed for me, so I pray for the Holy Spirit to tend to me and prune out those activities, thoughts, and habits which distract me. Pruning hurts, but the result is a beautiful, productive life worthy of exhibition in a bonsai garden.
Father God, I’m thankful you generously love me and care for me. Your care is so deep, in fact, that you tend to me and speak to me about the life you have planned for me. Even though it may hurt at times, I want to allow You to carefully manage my growth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
John 15:5 (NIV): “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Romans 7:4 (NIV): “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”
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