This morning I had about half an hour free before I needed to take off, and I decided that it would be a good morning to prune the rose bushes in front of my house. They had a bit of a rough winter because it was so cold, and were looking like they could use a good clean up. Whoda thunkt that God would use something like that as a teaching tool 🙂

I have three nice rose bushes in front of the house. The one on the north is the biggest, it’s the most sheltered. The one in the middle is a bit smaller, and the one on the south has had a hard life, cause it’s the most exposed to the sun and the weather. Ironically, the big, sheltered one had grown the fastest and the most, but also had the most things that needed pruned out of it. They all have a plethora of very sharp thorns though 🙂 As I was pruning away, cutting away both the dead wood as well as some of the errant green, budding, live parts, I got stuck a number of times. Needless to say it didn’t feel very good, especially when you’d let go of it, and it failed to return the favor (if you get my drift :P)

I started to think about God’s pruning in our lives, and what He had showed me last July when I was pruning my lilac bush. ( I wondered to myself if God ever got “stuck” when He did His pruning in our lives. He spoke to my heart that yes, He does, and got me to thinking how we react when stuff like that happens. After all, how many of us pray to God, “Thank you for allowing this pain in my life, for taking [whatever or whoever] away from me.” No, we yell, argue, fight, sulk, whine, and whatever else. I know I have the tendency to do that anyhow.

Even though I’m doing what’s best for the survival and growth of my roses, so too God does what’s best for our survival and growth, because He loves us so much. Sometimes, that involves pain, it involves things that don’t make sense at the time. You see, during the course of my pruning, I chose to cut off some good branches, some nice healthy, strong, green, budding branches. From the rose’s point of view, that may not make sense. But then again, I have better plans for it. You see, I was able to tell that sometime in the future, that branch would start rubbing against another branch, causing a wound in both of them that could allow disease to get into both branches, requiring much more drastic measures. Others were going to rub up against the siding. Still others were growing out into the yard along the ground, destined to be hit by the lawn mower or the weed whacker at some point down the road. But the rose didn’t see that, all it noticed was that I was cutting parts of it off, and it stuck me with thorns in return.

Something else that it probably didn’t notice was that, by pruning it while it was still early on, I was able to get all the dead stuff out very easily. If I had waited until later, it would have grown up in all those bad directions, and I would have had to have been much more aggressive in my pruning to get to the dead areas, especially in the center. So even though it was painful for it right now, if I had waited, it would have been much more painful down the road.

As we are reminded in Hebrews 12:5b-11:

““My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

And in John 15:1-2, Jesus said, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

So, remember that God loves us very much, which means that He will do what’s best in our lives, even though it may not make sense sometimes, and may be painful. Trust the Gardener, Who knows the wonderful plan He has for your life – a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, a plan to give you hope and a future.