Friday, January 2, 2015

The Work of my Heavenly Gardener

Dear Ones - as we approach this new year, I want to say with absolute assurance that I believe God is in the miracle working business.  He still affects dramatic changes in the lives of those who approach Him with the attitude of "change me to be more like Jesus no matter what it takes."

"No matter what it takes."  Does that scare you?  Be honest.  It does scare me.  Why?  Because my flesh is afraid of what that might mean.  But that's the problem.  It's the flesh that is afraid.  So, I pray again, "Lord, all of you  and none of me."  

Then comes the peace that allows me to invite the Holy Spirit into every nook and cranny of my life, hiding nothing and ask Him to snip away at anything that would hinder a sweet relationship with the Lord Jesus.  

The precious thing about having a relationship with the Lord Jesus is that as His child, I am consistently learning as He provides guidance, wisdom, and clarity when I have a teachable spirit and long to know more. 

That requires constant attention to His Word and prayer, which is my spiritual breath.  While the Lord Jesus is making me like Himself, He has to affect change in my life on a daily basis.  How dramatic it is depends on how involved the "I" gets.  If it's all of Him and none of me, it's a simple process.

Here is my main problem.  I am not a fan of change.  Frank and I often joke that if I had had my way, we would still be living in the house on Sinclair in Midland, Texas (6 houses, 2 states and many years ago).

I am a nester and a homebody, and the Lord usually has to pry my hands away a finger at a time from the thing that holds me back when He wants to unsettle and grow me.  Amazingly, He is always patient and never hurts a single finger in the process.  I might be reeling because I wouldn't just let go, but He is always there to steady my walk and point me in the right direction. 

He continually affects change in my life through pruning.  I feel the "snipping."  I also feel the loving tenderness of my Gardener.  He is doing it for my good and His glory. While there is discomfort, there is no pain or fear (as long as "I" stays out of the way.)

"I am the true vine (The Lord Jesus), 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 more fruitful." (John 15: 1-2).  What a blessed thought.  One of the ways He confirms that I "am in Him, and He is in me," is that He prunes me.

I googled the reason plants need to be pruned.  I was amazed at what I read, and how it paralleled spiritual pruning.  First, pruning must take place for Safety - not for the plant's safety, but for the safety of things around the plant - covered signs, overhanging branches that could cause harm to people, or intrude on another plant's ability to flourish.  Spiritually, I need pruning so I will not be a spiritual hindrance or do spiritual harm to others.

Health - to prevent the spread of disease, improve circulation, and provide more exposure to sunlight. What a beautiful picture of what we need as Christians for spiritual health - freedom from the disease of sin so that the Holy Spirit has free flow, and we can be a light in a dark world because we walk in light.

Production - to encourage more fruit bearing.  Without pruning, most of a plant's energy goes into growth instead of yielding fruit or flowers.  What good is height and depth, if there is no joy, peace, forbearance, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and self-control? (Gal. 5:22-23)

Keep trees to a pickable size - I loved this.  Pruning keeps a tree from being so tall that it is really hard to reach the fruit or so short that it is physically hard to pick - having to bend over, etc. 

I thought about thinking so little of my position in Christ that my light was dim, and my fruit was too much trouble to pick or not sweet enough to use or eat; or being so "heavenly minded I was no earthly good."  Either one keeps me from exhibiting the fruits of the spirit the way the Lord wants me to.

There are many more, but the one that really caught my attention was: Pruning avoids weak tree whips and dual leaders.  

I am going to actually quote the google source.  "Most fruit trees come with "whips," which are tall and slender. Proper pruning avoids weak whips that split in a storm, and instead limits the tree to a single leader strengthened by a strong root system." 

Now, just think about that, pruning ensures that there is only one Leader (The Lord Jesus), that the source of the strength of the tree or plant is provided in the strong root system (rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith - Col. 2:7), so that as I grow, I am not a weak whip that splits in the storms of life, but I am a fruit bearer because I am a branch that remains or abides as an outgrowth of the Leader drawing from His strength.  "If I remain in Him, and He in me, I will bear much fruit; but without the one true Leader, the Vine, I can do nothing." John 15:5

Listen, sweet family and friends, I would welcome more than just a snip here and a snip there if it would continue to give me the joy, peace, gentleness and forbearance I have experienced during seasons of spiritual pruning.

Lord Jesus, thanks for the strong connection to my Heavenly Daddy, my Gardener.  Thanks for showing your love for me and ownership of my life through pruning.  Thanks for the gentleness of the snip.  Thanks for the beauty this pruning will produce. 

Most of all, Lord Jesus, let the fruit produced within me grow as I grow in You - glorify You and point others to You, so that at the end of every season of pruning, I will have greater treasure to lay at your feet. 

Pruning - a marvelous reason I can continue to approach each day with the joy of the Lord.  Love to you all.  Happy New Year.  Keep looking up.  Mecca

(Some of these thoughts have been used before, but they are still true at this very moment in my life.  Are they in yours?)