I picked out a small red bougainvillea bush to plant near the house. The one I selected had artistic curves and bends in some of its branches, important to me for I wanted to turn it into a bonsai, to make it look like a real, gnarled, weather beaten tree, just in miniature. Immediately after purchasing the small bush I set about pruning away several branches that obscured the artistic curves and bends of several of the other branches. Part of the art of bonsai is pruning the plant to bring out its beauty. Other plants also need pruning, such as fruit trees, so that they produce more fruit or rosebushes so they bloom better.
Pruning seems at first glance to be counter intuitive. Why spend money buying a plant with, say, ten bushy branches and then cut away three or more of them! It feels like you’re throwing away good money. Then too, it seems like you’re harming the plant; what’s kind about taking a pruning shears to a plant and cutting off several of its limbs? Nevertheless, any horticulturalist will tell you that pruning is good for plants. As it turns out, pruning can be good for people too!
We people not only grow and develop in good ways but also in bad ways. We accumulate thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, habits, money, and possessions that keep us from being the beautiful and productive people God wants us to be. Sometimes some stuff has to go, has to be pruned from us.
God not only blesses us by giving us what we don’t have but oftentimes by taking away some of what we do have! What God removes from our lives is ultimately for the good. I know, this is hard to believe, but this is where faith and trust in God comes in.
Over the years as a pastor I have seen many people become better people, people who have grown closer to God, through the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of good health, the loss of money, and the loss of many other things. God’s intention is that every loss ultimately be a win, for us and for His kingdom!
Our lives often experience pruning. It’s our choice as to whether this pruning process makes us bitter or better!
“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.” (Jesus in John 15:1-2)