December 28, 2010
Pruning our Lives
"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 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In 2006, I sat down to write my annual Christmas letter and it began with these words: "This year has been a year of change." Then I realized that was the very same way I had begun our traditional letter the year before! I tore up the letter and decided to skip our Christmas letter that year.
Have you ever had one of those years when everything in your life seemed to change? I had two years in succession where God left no area of my life untouched…except my marriage. I did get to keep my husbandJ My son graduated from college, I stepped down from leadership at a ministry where I had served for ten years and my voice went off the radio for the first time in a decade. But perhaps the biggest change was that we left a home we had lived in for twenty years. This was a home we had built, filled with wonderful memories in every room. My adult son's two-year-old handprints were stamped in the concrete of the driveway, his growth was charted on the kitchen doorframe, and echoes of laughter and tears lingered in the now empty rooms.
But Steve and I packed up our memories and moved out into the country to a house overlooking a beautiful lake. And while we loved the view and the house, the yard was a mess. The shrubbery around the house was terribly overgrown and there were just too many bushes. Steve began the arduous task of cutting the bushes back, and while he is quite a Rambo with a hedge trimmer, the job was too big for him. We hired a crew to finish the job. The men hauled off truck loads of trimmings. All-in-all, they carted away 2,000 pounds of cuttings!
As I watched the last dump truck pull away from our newly trimmed yard, God began to show me a picture. He seemed to tell me that over the past two years, He had been pruning my life in order to make room for healthy new growth. My life had become too full with what I had been comfortable doing. Yes, there was fruit, but He wanted me to produce more fruit. The only way to make room for what He had in store was to lop off areas of my life that had become overgrown. Was it comfortable? No. Was it spiritually profitable? Yes.
Jesus explained this process to the disciples in one of their last conversations together before the cross: "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).
As you move into the New Year, ask God what parts of your busy schedule need to be pruned or cut back. Perhaps, like me, He has some new and exciting ventures waiting just around the corner, and He's waiting for you to make room in your life before He reveals them.
Dear God, sometimes I don't like it when you prune my life. It's uncomfortable and I'm not crazy about change. However, I know that You are the gardener who knows what is best to produce the best crop in my life. Forgive me when I whine and complain about the process. Help me to trust You more and give up what needs to be removed with an attitude of expectancy and anticipation of a bumper crop of spiritually healthy fruit.
In Jesus' Name,
More from the Girlfriends
One of the ways God blessed me with more fruit was by bringing me to Mary and Gwen to start Girlfriends in God. It has been such a joy to join hands with you and share our lives together. What does God have in store for you this year? If you would like to learn more about how to listen to God's direction in your life, you might want to check out Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God. He's speaking; can you hear Him?
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