Being OK With Where You Are {Chapter 7}

“You can’t go over it.

You can’t go under it.

You have to go through it.”  

We Are Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen

There is simply no way  to go over, under, or around the subject of pruning. We will at some point have to go through it. Let’s go through it together, shall we?

summertime; woman in red dress standing on green field over blue sky

From Chapter 7: {On Pruning}

The Liars Bench sat outside Rice’s Bait Shop and across the street from the little Baptist church where I grew up. We would sneak over between Sunday School and church to buy candy and Choc-ola. By the way, I’m pretty sure nothing tastes better than an ice cold Choc-ola on a hot summer day. I sat on that bench every Sunday, rain or shine in my black Mary Jane shoes and tried hard not to spill my drink on my dress. I may have also told some little white lies as well.

If you and I could sit together on the Liar’s Bench drinking our cold chocolatey goodness, I would look you straight in the eyes and say:

“Pruning doesn’t hurt one bit.“

Of course, I’d be lying if I did. But, we’d be sitting on the bench and that would make it all right. Or I could open the pages of my journal and tell you the truth:

Here we are again.

I’m broken to pieces.

In this one area you have elected to take your pruning sheers and cut back to the deep.  It is in this pruned place I am vulnerable.  Over and over again I have laid it down.  It is yours Lord.  You know best.  

Some days, I am weak and You are strong.
Some days I am just weak.

I don’t know why this one thing is so hard.  Why it hurts so bad.  Why the longing is more than I can bear. So, here is my plea.  “Take it. If it s not to be, and perhaps it never will, then please take away the desire.  Make me indifferent.  Fill that space of want, only with YOU and what YOU want for me.” That’s it, that is all I have.

The lies are subtle.  I am quick to believe them more than not.  I have so many promises stored up in my heart, but in this one area, the arrows go straight to the heart.  I am defenseless.

No good.
Discarded.
Forgotten.

So not true.  I know, I know, I know.  But I feel it to the very center of who I am. “

Pruning hurts. And that is the honest to goodness truth.

We Are All Good Pruning Material

Every living thing is pruned in some way. According to Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, to prune means:

 “To lop or cut off the superfluous branches of trees, to make them bear better fruit or grow higher, or to give them a more handsome and regular appearance.”

Jesus ties it into our spiritual life here by saying:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

First, God the Father prunes where spiritual decay or disease has settled into our life. It could be a place where pride has moved in and set up shop, no longer bringing glory to the Lord. Or it is a nonbearing fruit superfluous branch. So, He cuts it away.

The second place God prunes is an area bearing a good harvest of fruit. This type of pruning usually catches us off guard and in particular may be the very reason you are reading this book. God cut away something in your life that you loved, and you are not ok with it.

When God prunes disease out of our hearts, we may grumble, but we eventually realize, it is for our good.  But, the second type of pruning requires a greater trust, I believe. It is in this pruning place we are left to wrestle with God, finding it hard to believe He really has our best in mind.

Pruning breaks and cuts us. It wounds us and leaves us open and vulnerable. Pruning is death and life all mixed up together. It is a walk through Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (English Standard Version)

A.W. Tozer says it best, I think. So I’ll borrow his words:

“It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.”  The Pursuit of God, p. 44.

The path of being ok with where you are often involves pruning, and pruning passes through the heart of the Gospel. Out of death, comes life. The death of Christ purchased my redemption, and I am called to be like Him:

“When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don’t want to do, I must die. When I wish to be selfish and serve no one, I must die. When shattered by hardship that I despise, I must die. When wanting to cling to wrong done to me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins a secret, I must die. When wants that are borderline needs are left unmet, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die.” Milton Vincent, “A Gospel Primer”, P41 (emphasis mine).

Hardships? Check. Wrong done to me? Check. Dreams shoved aside? Check. Are you having fun yet? We are all good pruning material and that means we are pretty much dying all day long. The Liars Bench is looking like a pretty sweet spot right now, isn’t it? Ah, if only, right? The good news is, God has his hands all over us, and if we are patient,  the master gardener will do a beautiful work.”

Just you wait. . . more to come,

xo,

Stacey

Q: How have you been pruned lately?

For more information on the entire chapter and book, Go here.

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Comments

  1. Crystal says:

    Oh the pruning. Sigh. Take your checklist above & put a big “ditto” beside it…and then add some of that good pruning & it’s been quite the year. Worth it? Without a doubt. Painful? Not enough chocolate in the world, some days. But God is faithful and His ways are good. When I look back on this year a decade from now, His glory will shine through. For now though? Let’s just say I’m thankful to have good friends who let me limp along side them. (ps sent you a link on Twitter. hehe. you’re welcome.)
    Crystal recently posted..What We Believe