God is the gardner of our hearts

Spring! Can it really be here?

In 2011 we had a slow start to “spring” where I live. Snow, dark and gloom seem to have been overstaying their welcome and you could feel it wearing on everyone.  I am a winter girl but even I was thinking enough already. I wanted spring because with spring, there is new growth and new life. During that so called spring, my husband gave the message for communion and I loved his analogy about how in the fall the trees shed their leaves and in the spring there is new birth. He related the idea to all of us needing to die to ourselves and shed our sins, to be born again just like the trees in the spring. When we are born again we are just like those trees in the spring, full of new growth and new life. One of the things he said that hit me the most was that some of the trees hang on to some of their leaves, refusing to drop them--they in a sense refuses to die to the fall to be reborn again in the spring. That is so true for all of us. Like the trees, we all have things we won't let go of no matter how unhealthy they are; we cling to them and refuse to drop them.

What a great analogy it was. As the day went on, I found myself thinking of a tree in our yard. We have a beautiful crabapple tree in our yard and in the fall of 2009 we had some guys come out and trim it along with all the other trees in our yard. A young man took to the job of trimming that beautiful tree, and as he tried to shape and cut it away at it, it became like a hair cut gone bad. (If you have ever tried to trim your own hair you know what I mean--you try so hard to even the longer side to be even with the shorter side and before you know it your hair is way shorter than you want and totally uneven.)  The poor guy tried to even the tree up and before long there was the most ugly excuse for a tree where there was once a beautiful tree. He rang my doorbell and stood on my step asking me to forgive him for what he had done to our tree. I pray my look was not one of total horror as I looked at the tree. I on one hand wanted to raise my voice and ask him what he was thinking, he mangled my favorite tree and on the other hand it hit me and that I had a chance to be “Christ like.”

I took a deep breath, put a smile on my face and it hit me what I should say. I told him, "Wow, you really got at it" and then I said, "Sometimes God has to prune us to take away the bad growth so that we can grow stronger and you may have just done that to our tree.” I told him thank you for being honest and I when he left I found myself alone in my home trying to let go of my anger about what he had done to my tree. I was thankful I had not blown up at the guy and when the owner of the company heard about it he was so sorry. He said if it didn't come back he would replace it. I keep feeling God nudge my heart that just like a tree being pruned, he prunes us and to let go of the tree and wait until the spring.  As spring approached we began to see the new growth on our tree and it has become a stronger and even more beautiful tree than before. We have laughed about having that young man come over and do the same to all our other trees so that they also can look so beautiful.

God has a long list of jobs and one of them is that He is like a gardener who prunes each of us to grow stronger and more beautiful in the likeness of His son. When we first find Him we shed our old life like the trees in the fall my husband talked about. We then have new growth like the trees in the spring and because God loves us, He then comes along beside us and prunes off what we seem to hold onto like the trees that hold their dead leaves all winter and into the spring.   God shapes us and grows us and sometimes it hurts to have things removed but He does it because the end result is like that of the tree in my yard I have been talking about. With all trees and plants, pruning must be done each year and God will continue to prune us all our lives to promote new growth.

I love the thought of God being my gardener and pruning me to become more and more like his son. How I long to have Christ-like actions and to have the love of Christ shine in my eyes. I love what Jesus teaches us in John 15:1-8: I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word, which, I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 

We are all works in progress and we must let God prune away at us if we want to see growth. Sometimes it is going to hurt but the end results are worth it. I will be the first to say, I have had some very ugly things pruned from me and with each cut I have grown closer to my Abba father. 

I am a work in progress and so are you.  Are you letting God prune away at you? Is he the Gardner of your heart?

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