Pruning Day

“The subject of pruning roses seems to strike fear into the heart of new rose growers. But it need not be so. If we remember that first and foremost, the goal of all pruning is to help the plant provide new growth and to keep it healthy by making it possible for air and light to filter into the middle of bush” (Pruning Roses – Rose Magazine).

“Prune: to cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant to improve shape or growth” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).

“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 – John 15:1-2, NIV)

Pruning Day Teamwork

My husband has learned that, each year, on the last day of his Christmas vacation, I am going to awaken, give him what I hope is a winsome smile, and announce that it is rose-pruning day.

He hates rose-pruning day.

I don’t blame him. I hate it too. Gloves may exist that could keep the thorns of my one dozen rose bushes from piercing my flesh, but I don’t own them. Mine have rubber fingers and palms that supply an illusion of security, but they are so worn out that every few minutes I yelp as another little spike jabs me. Who remembers to replace an item you use just once a year?

But it is not just the malicious thorns and hours of back strain that cause my husband to hate this chore. Jeff is opposed to pruning because he can’t bear the thought of killing any living thing.

He doesn’t smash spiders; he carefully escorts them outside. He winces and implies that I’m a murderer when my foot happens to fall squarely on an anthill on our morning walk. After I’ve trimmed and arranged a bouquet, I’ll find him sifting through the refuse to retrieve the poor broken-stemmed blossoms I’ve rejected. He doesn’t want them to have lost their lives in vain, so he fills a saucer and sets them afloat.

Therefore, it causes him no small amount of distress to see me lop off what he sees as perfectly good leaves, stems and buds. Our teamwork, where I perform the surgery and he cleans up the debris, also involves a running dialogue:

“No! No!” he says in horror. “You aren’t going to snuff out the life of that little shoot are you? I see green leaves on it! ”

“I certainly am!” I snap as I snip, reminding him of John chapter 15. “ It’s biblical. Mandated by Scripture. The best thing I can do for these plants.”

A few pictures are worth a thousand words.

This is what I am working with today, pruning day in January.

And this is what my well-pruned roses look like in May.

I rest my case.

There is no denying it, the gangly stalks that will poke out of the dirt for the next few months are certainly ugly.

But then the rains come. The red buds emerge. The earth warms. The roses burst into bloom. Their exquisite beauty never fails to astound me with our Creator God’s artistry and attention to detail.

The Gardener

And Scripture tells us that God is also the gardener, the one who prunes OUR lives so we will be more fruitful.

Even more than I hate pruning the roses, I hate being pruned. I resent it when my plans are thwarted, when I seem to be losing ground rather than gaining it. I don’t like being crosswise. When I am comfortable and content with the way things are going in my life, I don’t want to have to relinquish, surrender, or release.

And you know what is even harder to take? The Bible and the gardening guide tell us that both dead AND living branches are fair game for the pruner’s sheers. Have you been laid off from a job you loved? Had a ministry opportunity seemingly dry up? Experienced a narrowing in your circle of friends for one reason or another? Put your shoulder to a firmly closed door? Heard a resounding “no” when you desperately wanted a “yes”?

Have you ever felt that God not only pruned a dead branch from your life, but a living one?

This Past Season

Take a moment to reflect on your past year. As you review your circumstances, what were your disappointments? What have you lost? What has been edited out of your life?

If you shift your focus, can you see that God may have been working to prune your life so that in time you might look more like Exhibit B than Exhibit A? Does this perspective make it a little easier to bear the fact that your life looks like those bare sticks and dirt at the moment?

Just wait. Spring is coming.

The gardening guide tells us that the purpose of pruning is to allow the rose bush to experience new growth. A plant is healthier when light and air can into the center.

As you watch the ebb and flow of people, experiences, and situations in your life, don’t forget that God is always working for your good, removing that which is superfluous, so that light and air can get into the center of your life. Right now might not be the season for blooms, but it’s coming!

As you remain in Him, and He remains in you, this is a picture of your life next season!