We cling on to these things because it makes us uncomfortable just to think about letting it go. We prefer long term pain over short term pruning pain
Pruning for Growth
Aline Lydia Kullu, Youth United For Christ, India
Have you heard of topiary? It is the art of pruning plants (typically evergreen shrubs and trees) into intricate or stylized shapes and forms. These forms can be as simple as a pyramid or as complicated as a giraffe, elephant or other animal shape. To maintain the shape and beauty of that shrub, regular clipping is needed.
Regular trims are also needed to maintain healthy hair. By trimming unhealthy split ends, hair will have less breakage and flyaway’s, making it look thicker and even shinier. The benefits of regular hair trimming are to remove split ends and hair damage. This will enable hair to grow faster because the hair will break less and, thus, grow longer.
We all want to grow in healthy ways – be it physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally. The Gospel speaks volumes about the process of pruning.
“He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” John 15:2
In John 15, Jesus explains our relationship with Himself and God the Father. He is the Vine, God is the Vinedresser, and we are the branches. A branch cannot sustain nor survive by itself. The vine is the source of life for the branches. It draws water and nutrients (life) through the vine. In verse 4, Jesus invites us to abide, survive and sustain in Him. The Vinedresser continually prunes for bigger and better fruits. In other words, God, the vinedresser, prunes our life to make us fruitful.
In robotics, an engineer designs and creates a robot. He is the best person who can define the purpose of that robot because he is the creator. He can identify when the robot is not functioning according to the purpose for which it was made. Similarly, God our creator knows the purpose in creating each one of us. He is the one who can tell us when we are going off-track. He has given us the freedom to choose so that we can choose Him and His purpose freely and willingly. He wants our relation to be mutual and not one sided. So, in the pruning process, apart from God’s role, our involvement plays an important role as well.
Laying our goals down before Him and leaning on His purpose is difficult but it can be done through humility and total submission. Only in His ways can we find true freedom. In the pruning process, we also need a support system. What exactly is this support system? This support system consists of the people around us who have experienced the same struggles and can support us emotionally and spiritually. We need these people because God’s work greatly and largely involves people. God has made us relational beings for this very purpose.
So, what does God try to prune in our life? God wants to prune every single area in our life that is contrary to His purpose for us; those things that keep us from being all He created us to be. This would include wounds from the past, addictions, ungodly relationships, certain habits, laziness, a job that one would depend on for their very existence, etc.
God may allow certain circumstances in our lives to reveal the branches that need to be pruned. He may allow a failed relationship, a failure in career or he may place someone in our life to reveal the areas where we need to work. We must not ignore the truth that these situations speak to us, simply because we desperately need to hear it. This process can be extremely painful, but there is always fulfillment in the end because God knows what we need, even better than we do (Matt 6:8).
God may allow certain circumstances in our lives to reveal the branches that need to be pruned.
At times, we think that we have been successful in letting go of those branches, but God calls us to do it repeatedly until we assume His perfect will. Pruning can appear as a tiresome process, and yet it is the most fruitful of all our experiences. There is no other way to make the life we have been given bear fruit than to allow God to take His loving shears and continually prune the dead branches out of our lives.
Pruning, however, becomes worthless if we are still attached to the things that we know God is telling us to separate from. We cling on to these things because it makes us uncomfortable just to think about letting it go. We prefer long term pain over short term pruning pain. Such situations can be described using the truth that “we don’t always actually want to get better.” By this it is meant that we don’t always want to be free from the familiar habits which holds us back from growth and we are completely unaware that we’re resisting at all. At times, we may even be praying earnestly for something to change, but deep down but deep down we’re holding onto that very thing because of a core belief about the place that thing holds in our life.
True growth occurs when we let go and let (in) God.