When my hydrangea bushes didn’t bloom well one year, I consulted my gardening manual for answers.
Turns out, my untimely pruning caused their decline.
Pruning shrubs is a particular art. Some shrubs, like my spiraea, bloom best when cut all the way to the ground in early spring.
Other shrubs bloom on last year’s wood. If they are trimmed too early, they won’t bloom, like my hydrangeas.
Still other shrubs, like lilacs, bloom best if only part of the plant is pruned and the rest is left to grow.
When I reflect on past seasons in my heart’s garden, I see correlations to the perfect timing of God’s pruning shears.
I remember times I was pruned all the way to the ground. Those emotional storms seemed intolerable, but they did provide a flush of new faith growth when the sun returned.
Other times, I had to wait for painful situations to run their course before God was willing to prune them away. Twice I endured difficult working conditions until my contract was fulfilled. Then the healthy pruning could occur, and I could bloom again.
I remember a few seasons when I bloomed best on last season’s lessons. As a former Bible Study Fellowship member, I spent nine months studying each of these books: Matthew, Romans, John, Isaiah. The lessons I learned carried me through the next life seasons and inspired more blooming.
Sometimes I bloom best when one part is cut away and the other part is left to nourish my roots. As a mom of a teenager, I’m in this particular pruning season. I have to let go of my son a little more every day. Yet I have to keep my roots strong in my relationship with God, so I can continue to nourish my son’s spiritual growth as he turns into a man.
Only God perfectly understands the best pruning times in my heart’s garden. I have learned to trust that his ways are higher than my ways, and his pruning methods are better than my pruning methods. I may not always understand his timing or his methods, but I do trust that God is wise, good, and holy, and he always wants the best for me. I trust that God is pruning me so I will bloom more beautifully and produce greater fruit.
I am meditating on Jesus’ words about pruning today:
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
John 15:1-3 NLT
Since Jesus himself was pruned, I must be willing to submit to the Father’s pruning in my heart. I am glad God chooses me to be pruned, so I can bear more fruit for his glory.
Questions for reflection:
What season of pruning is occurring in your heart’s garden this week?
How have you been pruned and purified by the message Jesus has given you?
Join me again tomorrow as my blog series “Meeting God in the Garden” continues. In the meantime, check out a few other posts in this series:
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