A few weeks ago I took a walk around my yard with my daughter and son in law. We have a large willow tree in our front yard–which has been a great source of joy and blessing for my grandchildren. I remember when my mom and my brother in law planted the tree as a young sapling almost fifty years ago. After we moved into this home, in August 1990, Darryl consistently would prune it. He watched such things. He knew what it needed and simply took care of it.
After our son in law, Timothy Haslet joined our family and became a landscaper he would ask Tim to help. In caring for Darryl, to be honest, I sort of forgot all about the need to prune the tree. Somehow, I just thought it would either grow “correctly” or simply be OK. I did begin to notice some changes–but really did not think them through. During this “walk in the yard”, Elizabeth pointed out some obvious changes. Some of the lower branches were dying. No or few leaves. I began to really LOOK at the tree and somehow it kept on changing during the past several years. Some of the branches have grown out over our fence line over the sidewalk the city maintains. Some of the branches have grown over our neighbors shed. Some of the branches were encroaching onto my sidewalk where people enter my home. Even though I was not paying attention to it–changes were happening. Little by little the branches grew.
Change happens. It is happening to each of us–even today. Some of my grandchildren are beginning to show signs of puberty, while I must admit I have been showing signs of aging! Some of these changes are predictable and welcomed. Others, not so much. I cannot go back and make sure the tree was pruned properly every year. It is too late for that. The canopy is grown to thick for the lower under branches to get enough light to properly grow which is why they are dying. I’m not sure what I am going to do about it as yet. It is not dangerous, but it could be if it does not receive attention. My daughter pruned the branches that were interfering with people coming into my home. Because I am now conscious of the willow tree, I began to notice the maple trees and how they are growing over the driveway. More change. How are we to handle these changes?
The willow tree changes took place because of its nature. Children maturing also, part of God’s plan–and alas, as much as I might not like some of my body’s aging process it is also natural. But what about our spiritual growth? John 15 is very clear that the Father is the gardener and he cuts off branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. I admit, I don’t really enjoy the pruning process. Learning to trust our Heavenly Gardener in every area of His pruning is essential, but not always easy!
We also have an apple tree on our property. Last year we barely picked one bowl of fruit. My son in law pruned it. This year I was shocked to find we had over six big bowls of apples. Pruning works! I now had to figure out what to do with the fruit! Sometimes it is harder to all Him to prune areas where I have already seen fruit. I am content with the known. However, as He moves in and through my life I must trust Him to do His best in and for me and for the others around me. As I begin to expect more fruit, I also must release my faith that He will help me manage that fruit!
Trusting the Lord to help us manage our change takes faith, courage and will enrich and deepen our relationship with Him as we allow His Word and Spirit to help me manage that fruit. Pruning can be as simple as the Holy Spirit quick conviction, a word from your child or message from a sermon or word from your leaders. If we respond quickly we will benefit from the pruning sooner. Dear brethren, let us receive His pruning with grace, maturity and trust! We all need it.