So I was at work a couple of weeks ago and I was trimming and pruning some of the pine trees around the yard and as I was in the midst of it I couldn't help but think to myself, "You know, these aren't actually that bad. I don't know why I have to trim these branches, they aren't that out of control. Either way, they are still trees, nobody will really be able to tell that they are overgrown."
And almost the second that I had this thought, God showed me how much they really needed to be cleaned up. Throughout the rest of the day I trimmed two full truckloads of branches off of those trees. Some of the branches were intertwined with other branches, some had pushed their way into the ground and had literally buried themselves, and other branches weren't even sticking out firmly but drooping all the way to the ground. And throughout that process I was reminded time and time again how NECESSARY it was for me to trim down the branches. No matter if the trees looked "good" or "clean" or "healthy" from the road or even from a few feet away, once I got in and started to clip off the overgrown branches it hit me how unhealthy and self-destructive they really were.
And in each moment of physical reminder, God was also showing me that the same is true with my heart and with the relationship that I have with Him. It's not that the relationship isn't there or that my heart isn't growing and producing some life, it's that I often allow my heart to get so surrounded by gunk but refuse to do any cleanup because "there's still some life being produced". It's like, no matter how deep into the hole I get, as long as I can still see some small area that isn't too overcrowded or some area where I am having success (my own self "success") then I can't see any of the weeds that are surrounding my heavy heart. But hey, as long as it still looks like a tree, then it must be healthy. No, that's actually not true. The weeds and the overgrowth will soon take over and pretty soon they start taking all of the nutrients, all of the attention, all of the time away from the healthy part of the tree and it starts to wither. Yeah, it might look like a tree and it might seem healthy, but oh how we've been tricked, nothing but death is coming.
And I think we are all this way.
Maybe it's just a human thing, but I see it so much around me.
The person who is unwilling to move away from an unhealthy relationship because, "hey, at least I have love somewhere, no matter how little or how inconsistent it is".
The guy chasing after a degree that he doesn't even want but feels like he has to have because "what else will I do?"
Or the girl who never thinks she is good enough so she continues to downplay success and downplay God's gifting in her until she starts to believe that she is worthless.
YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS. Please know that.
You have heavenly value. You have purpose. You matter to me, even if I don't know you simply and SO MUCH more importantly BECAUSE God, the Creator of this world (the high heavens and the bright stars and the magnificent mountains and the glimmering streams and the sweet-chirping birds and the incredibly talented giraffes) counts you as one of His own, His beloved. His child. His precious one.
We get sidetracked from this truth as we walk through life and I think that when it comes time to move on and trust God we get scared that there is nothing else out there for us so we hold as tightly as we can to whatever it is in front of us (whether it is a good or bad thing), never willing to let go. Never willing to move on to something else. Something different that God has for us; something eternally great. It's a trust thing for us. If we can't see whatever it is that is promised to come to us, then how can we trust it?
Dad's Word shows us that we can trust His promises and even more so trust Him!
—Deuteronomy 31:8. "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."—
Ain't that a promise. Our Father, the Lord, eternal God, Yahweh, goes before us and is with us! We don't have to worry.
"But Seth, it's hard not to worry. It's hard not to question. It's hard not to hold on to what I can see because what if what I can't see doesn't work out?"
I know, I'm right there with you. I'm walking right through that same stuff. I have questions I don't know when will be answered and I have sins that I want to walk away from so badly but I keep stumbling.
And yet, I'm reminded that God is still faithful and good.
"but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12
I want to find renewed strength. I want that crown of eternity.
It's time to trust God again.
It's time to hope again.
It's time to let God clean us up.
It's time to be pruned. The season is here.
In John 15:3-5, Jesus, our Savior, says, "The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So enter into life-union with me, for I have entered into life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. I am the sprouting vine and you're my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you–but when you live separated from me you are powerless."
- Jesus has already made us clean by the words He has spoken, therefore, we are already clean. That's redundant but I think it's absolutely vital that we understand this. We don't have to work or strive or do anything on our own to make ourselves clean. Jesus has already done that work and when we give our lives to Him we are everlastingly clean. So that means it takes believing that Christ has already made us clean by His words for us to truly be clean. Believe it!
- We cannot bear fruit by ourselves. I don't know about you, but sometimes I get into seasons of my life where I somehow forget that the gifts that I have are from God and for God's glory and I start to "do" religion and think that my righteousness comes from my own works. So not true. And I believe that, but I don't always know it, you know? I know the truth but I tend to act differently. May you and I both be people who strive every single day to abide in Christ and be intimately joined with Him for without Him we can do nothing.
- Fruitfulness (and an abundant stream of it) is a production of this trust in Christ, the true Vine. When we trust Him with everything–which means we come to the end of ourselves and accept His plan to be greater than ours–fruit (life, joy, peace, love, patience, hope, self-control) is a result! An interesting thing about this trust, though, is that it doesn't just happen one time and then we are good. We have to continue to trust Him every day, in every situation, believing that He has what is best for us always on His mind. The Father prunes us and cleans us when we trust in Jesus, and THAT is when the fruit comes. The buds can bloom, the flower pedals can open up to reveal their beauty, the cherry trees are ready to be plucked. When we allow God to transform us into His image, fruit will come. Fruit that will not only be good for us, but will also be so sweet and healthy for other people to consume too. Be good fruit.
Pruning, plucking, cleaning, fixing, refining and reshaping are all necessary steps for growth to happen and for life to be produced, so don't shy away from them or run from them, embrace them, enjoy them, and worship God in them. Live boldly in them. It's tough to go through the pruning season or be on the opposite side of that season (the waiting season) and not feel discouraged or downcast, but if we can recognize that we always need Jesus to be our Source of life and that we can be PERSONAL and REAL and IMPERFECT with Him, then we will be able to see the pruning as He does: the next step into our calling.
It's one thing to talk about it, and it's another thing to do it, so my prayer over this post is that it will inspire all of us to step out of our fear and to step into true faith and life-union with Christ. We need true life in and for these dead bodies and in and for this dead world, and we know the One who can bring it, Jesus.
–Isaiah 40:28-29. "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength."–
press into the pruning season with excitement.