March 24, 2007 by Stacy McDonald
When I woke up this morning I opened the sliding glass door of our bedroom to let in the scents and sounds of the outside world. Ahhh…spring is here! The birds are singing and the air is fragranced with hints of growing things – and approaching rain. Although the trees are still stark from their long winter sleep, we all know what’s coming. And we can hardly wait!
My daughter, Tiffany, and I were talking to a friend the other day and she was explaining to us that this is the time to clean our flower beds and prune our bushes and trees. I agreed with my friend and repeated it for my daughter, saying, “We need to prune the bushes in the front and cut off all the dead stuff.” Then I looked to my daughter, wanting to see if she got my full meaning, “Pruning is painful, I know; but, that’s what encourages new growth.” So many lessons from nature!
My friend and I smiled together. We have certainly lived long enough to be pruned by the Lord on many occasions. Ouch! It doesn’t feel good while it’s happening, does it? The dead and diseased parts of our hearts are in need of removing and we should be thankful God cares enough about us to remove it, but it sure can be painful to endure.
Then there’s the hope – the tender new growth that gives evidence of what is to come. That little hint of new life speaks volumes. And what is to come? The fruit! The fruit that He blesses us with enables us to give glory to Him. It enables us to effectively give testimony of His goodness and mercy and communicate honestly of His nature to others. The fruit is always worth it.
I wonder how many of us pray for pruning. The thought occurred to me that I have never prayed for God’s pruning – at least not outright. I haven’t prayed for it because I know it hurts. I hate pain.
But, if I don’t pray for pruning, then perhaps it means I don’t really trust Him completely. Maybe I anticipate the pain not being worth the results. Could it be possible that I don’t trust anyone, including God, to go waving around my heart with sharp pruning shears? I hope it’s not true, but I can’t think of any other reason I would secretly hope for God to not notice my need.
I remember as a new Christian, someone telling me, “Don’t pray for patience, because who knows what God will put in your life to teach it to you!” I think that’s a fairly horrible thing to tell a new Christian. It communicates a distrust of God and suggests that He is just waiting for the opportunity to cause us some sort of inconvenience or harm – almost as if it’s for His amusement.
Yes, I think we should be praying for patience and for pruning. But, thankfully He doesn’t always wait for us to pray for it. He loves us enough to give us what we need, not always what we want or ask for. Still, I am convinced He desires us to get to the point where we trust Him enough to ask (pray) for what may be painful, in anticipation of what brings Him the most glory. “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
I’m still in the midst of my own season of God’s pruning, but next time I think I’ll actually pray for…it. (See, I can still hardly say it out loud – p-r-u-n-i-n-g.) I’ll also pray that God will help me to bear it. I’ll pray that He’ll give me the strength and the perseverance to willingly withstand it to His glory. I’ll pray that He will grant me the faith I’ll need to trust Him during the pruning, and the humility I’ll need to give Him glory for the new growth when it comes. Next time I hope I won’t hold my hands over my head in self defense, proving to the world that I don’t really trust Him.
Will you pray for this for yourself too? Are you ready to trust God to be…well, to be God? If we all do this, can you imagine all the new growth we’ll see this spring! And then there’s the fruit; just imagine the fruit!