Yesterday my loving husband trimmed our bushes and hedges, knowing I wanted to work on the rose hedge. It's something I try to do every spring, but because of a teaching assignment, I didn't get it done. Now that it is fall, the rose hedge looks like this:
It looks full and had many beautiful antique and tea roses on it this last spring. But what happened as I began to clear out the grass and weeds was this (note the far right side of the hedge, behind the flowers):
What? You can't see anything? Exactly. There are a few stems coming up from the ground, but they are sparse and small. Because I failed to prune and care for them this spring and over the summer, they suffered atrophy. Their appearance was beautiful and they seemed to serve their purpose, but my negligence has affected their growth. Truthfully, I don't like pruning--as the one who trims, or as the one whom God prunes.
The physical work was a good reminder to me (once again!), of God's faithful, pruning work in my life. When I allow other things to grow up, in, and around my time and energies, I eventually rob myself of abundant life. I fail to grow and flourish the way I was designed. As the one who did the pruning, I can testify to cuts, blisters, and embedded thorns. The process is difficult, painful, and--in its immediacy--damaging to the plant. But until the air can circulate, the sun can penetrate, and the rain can nourish the base of the plant, it will die a slow (and undisturbed) life.
As we continue to faithfully serve where God has placed us, may we willingly submit to His gracious pruning and purifying work in our lives.