When I prune a tree or bush I don’t care about, I quickly use the hedge clippers to cut it back without a second thought. When it comes to a special tree, my pruning is more strategic and careful.
A recent weekend found me hedging numerous bushes in my yard. When I planted them on the barren landscape, I didn’t envision the care necessary to keep them looking good: clipping, cutting, pruning, weeding, and mulching. (What was I thinking?) As I trimmed, God used my hot, humid yardwork as His canvas to sketch a small portrait of His deep, abiding, and sovereign love.
I have a bulky, prickly, holly bush that came with the house when I bought it. I wouldn’t care if the holly died. I’d gladly replace it with something more appealing. So, my pruning is quick and uncaring as I slice it into shape with my electric hedge trimmers.
I also have a prized Japanese maple in my back yard. It is the third one I have purposefully bought, planted, and nurtured. The previous two died, so I take great care with this third tree. I followed instructions about specific ground conditions, fertilizer, and other tips so I would have a healthy, burgundy-leafed tree.
When it came time to prune the Japanese maple, I was hesitant to cut away the bottom branches—even though doing so would help the tree grow taller and fuller. I sized up the tree from a distance, as well as up close and personal. Then I envisioned the future tall, shady, fantastic tree it could become. Only then did I begin cutting away the branches that would hinder future growth.
Knowing God loves us and wants us to become the best we can be, I suspect He prunes us with a Japanese maple approach—never a holly. Removing whatever is hindering our growth may be painful, but He envisions us as the strong, healthy, effective people He created us to be. His pruning is not hurried, thoughtless, or uncaring but loving, strategic, and helpful.
Whatever or whomever God prunes from your life, trust that He is working all things for your good according to His purposes.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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A lifelong student of Scripture, Nate Stevens has also enjoyed a forty-year banking career in a variety of leadership roles. He is the author of: Matched 4 Life (book and workbook), Deck Time with Jesus, Transformed: Until Christ is Formed in You, Conformed: Into the Likeness of Christ, Informed: Living by God’s Absolute Truth, and God’s Secret Place. He is also a contributing author on several of the Moments Books series (Billy Graham Moments, Romantic Moments, Divine Moments, Spoken Moments, Christmas Moments, Stupid Moments, and Broken Moments). He writes online articles for ChristianDevotions.us and KingdomWinds.com, as well as several other ministries. Additionally, he co-founded and leads Fusion, a Christian singles ministry. A popular speaker and teacher at conferences, seminars, and Bible study groups, he speaks on a wide variety of topics. Nate has two adult children. He and his wife, Karen, live near Charlotte, North Carolina. Follow Nate and find more resources at: www.natestevens.net