Pruning

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When God prunes something or even someone from our lives, it hurts. We may wonder where we went wrong or why He’s doing it. We may try to ignore it and keep pushing forward with our own agendas or what others have told us. We may think we’re misunderstanding what’s happening, that God would never prune that so there must be something else going on.

I’ve been struggling lately with a lot of things He’s been pruning, wondering if there is going to be anything left of me when He’s done. I’ve cried out to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment, knowing He is the only One who can really help me to understand what’s happening.

I’m learning through my own experiences the two reasons why God prunes things from my life:

Growth.

Protection.

Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I’m a little slow and sometimes I need God to teach me something more than once so I can “get it.” (I’m so thankful He’s patient!)

I find myself begging God to leave certain things and crying when He gently makes a few snips and cuts here and there as those things fall away.

To my human eye, I can’t see the reasoning behind it.

But I know better than to trust my own reasoning. (The mess I would be in today if I trusted me instead of Him! The very thought makes me cringe.)

Here’s an example: I thought I was supposed to start a business last year designing graphic art to inspire and encourage others. So I did.

But God trimmed that right out of my life not long after it was up and running.

Today, I am thankful. I have more time to do what He’s called me to do: take care of my family and write.

But when He first did it, I didn’t understand. The designs I created were encouraging people to turn to Him. How could that be bad?

I realized if it’s not God’s will for my life, then I shouldn’t be doing it because it takes the nourishment and sunlight away from what He is trying to grow in my life. No matter how those grapes might appear to me on the branch, if it isn’t what He has in mind, He’s going to snip it.

IF I surrender those pruning shears to Him.

Oh sure, I could have been stubborn and kept going with that little business. But I know it would have put a strain on my family and my writing.

And ultimately my relationship with God would have suffered because I would have pulled away from Him as I hid those shears in my hands.

Instead, I allowed Him to trim that business away just as I’m allowing Him to trim things from my life today.

Does it hurt? It sure does.

But the best way to grow closer to Him is to allow Him to clear away those excess things, those distractions, those toxic relationships, and anything that will harm us. Anything that hinders our growth.

And He will snip at those things we were not created to do. (Me? It’s cooking for large crowds. Oh, I get by for our little family, but it’s not pretty!)

When we allow God to prune those things out of our lives, we are allowing more of Him, more of His light to flood into our lives to produce the fruit He intended all along.

God-honoring fruit that will last.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-9 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.” (John 15:5 NIV.)

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16a NIV.)

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10 NIV.)

 

 

 

Serve

 

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At the end of every year, I ask God to reveal a word to me for the upcoming year. (Click here for last year’s word.) I was in the kitchen cooking something back in December when I asked and a word just came:

Serve.

I’ll be honest, the word scared me. Serve? Serve who? And how? Where? Questions buzzed around me like a swarm of hornets. I was cringing and waiting to feel those stings.

Would God ask me to serve in similar ways I’d done in the past? Lord, You know how that turned out.

Would He ask me to take on a variety of those heavy tasks like I’d tried to carry before? Lord, You remember how I used to cry at night, begging You to rescue me.

Again, I’m being honest here: I wanted to ignore God. I really did. I didn’t want to think about serving because of what happened in my past.

But then something wonderful happened: God began teaching me what He meant by the word “serve.” He revealed it through the time I spent with Him reading His Word, through sermons I’d heard, and through my past, those things I’d tried that didn’t work.

I think I needed to learn that failing isn’t like wandering through a muddy, dark valley where we hang our heads low and whimper as we crawl out. (Oh, it can be if we want to see it that way.)

Failing can be an experience we share with God, one where He picks us up, pulls the leaves from our hair, and puts His arm around us as He leads us out of that dark valley; all the while giving us eyes that see some good, some lesson that we can learn from the mess we got ourselves into. (If we ask Him to help us.)

Something I needed to learn from my past failures before I could really move forward to “serve” the way He wanted was to listen to Him. Really listen to Him and stop trying to look for a detour that might be faster. And I really needed to stop trying to figure things out, stop trying to fix things.

I make such a mess with all of my “fixing!”

When I finally stopped running in circles in my muddy valley, when I finally stopped trying to fix everything, and when I stopped ignoring God, He explained what He meant:

“Serve Me.

If I’m being honest again (which I am), I breathed a sigh of relief! Maybe that sounds strange, but I remember the Scripture that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30.)

God doesn’t want to burn us out. We do that enough on our own.

Our loving heavenly Father has wonderful plans, wonderful purposes for us. That’s why it’s exciting, not burdensome and NEVER boring, to serve God.

But what does that mean exactly?

Well, I know what He has revealed to me for my life: I am supposed to stop running away from God’s calling (my name isn’t Jonah!), stop making apologies to the world because I’m “JUST” a stay-at-home mom (which means I stop acting like a dog with its tail between its legs like I’m lazy and doing something wrong and should be ashamed – but that’s a whole other topic!), and be the best wife and mom I can be. And it’s time I step fully into my calling as a writer. No more doubts. No more wavering. It is my calling. It’s time I take it seriously.

I’m so excited to see what He’s going to do through my finally-surrendering-to-His-will heart, what things He will pour into me that I may spill out and share with others. And really, I’m honored to serve Him in ways that I can love Him even more.

Serve. What a beautiful word.

“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12: 24 NIV.)

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11 NIV.)

(Photo from Pexels.)