Our front bushes looked like a porcupine having a bad hair day (I’m not sure porcupines have good hair days). Walking past them was like conquering an Indian Jones obstacle course…we always ended up with scratches. The rain had delayed the yard crew, so our bushes continued to grow unrestrained. Soon, the yard crew buzzed around the neighborhood again and I was hopeful for neatly trimmed bushes. Yet, after two weeks they remained untouched. I told my husband he needed to take on the job…the yard crew was too scared of them (I don’t blame them…I only wish now I had taken a picture) He borrowed and pair of electric hedge clippers and went to work shaping our bushes back into their visually appealing round shape. As I watched him, my heart couldn’t help but feel somewhat sympathetic for the bushes.
When we grow unrestrained it isn’t pretty. Our unruly branches scratch others, at times cutting deep. Yet, somehow, it’s always hard to see that we’ve become overgrown.
The past eighteen months have been a time of pruning for me. I have been pruned as a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, an employee, and a disciple. And it has hurt.
The Christy Nockels song “For Your Splendor” has been my anthem.
“It’s hard to grow while everybody’s watching. To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best. And though I’m bare and cold. I know my season’s coming. And I’ll spring up in Your endless faithfulness.”
It’s easier to welcome pruning in the quietness of your soul or the confinement of your quiet time. But being pruned while your center stage for everyone to see is hard.
Confronting your lack of self control when you lash out at your husband is hard.
Confronting your selfishness when your newborn is crying and you want to lay there and sleep is hard. (and maybe you did lay there and sleep)
Confronting your pride when you let your boss and team down because you were too prideful to ask for help is hard.
Being pruned in private requires little grace. Being pruned in public requires abundant grace. God didn’t design us for solitude He designed us for community.
Being faithful and obedient doesn’t mean being perfect. Our imperfections and failures are an opportunity for His grace to be displayed. When my most diligent efforts fail is when His grace prevails.
John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
He promises that pruning is for our good. That we may bear more fruit.
I am grateful that Jesus is the one wielding the hedge clippers. He is precise, clipping one by one. He is gentle, knowing that it hurts and providing encouragement along the way.
On the other side of pruning is a promise. The promise of being used for His splendor.
“With my roots deep in You. I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit. And though I’m small, I’ll still be standing in the storm. ‘Cause I am planted by the river by Your streams of living water. And I’ll grow up strong and beautiful, all for Your splendor, Lord.” (For Your Splendor, Christy Nockels)