I don’t know about you, but Spring is my favourite season. It might just be the hope of warmth on the horizon after months on end of snow and freezing temperatures, but there is something about the month of April that brings me an immense amount of joy.
As some of you may know, my family moved to a new home in November 2020. The whole process of buying and selling a home in the middle of a pandemic was pure chaos, but that’s a story for another time. Although the inside of the home was well maintained and in wonderful shape, the rest of the property was not. The trees were in desperate need of a good trim and some shaping, the flower beds were overgrown and wild, and the lawn needed a lot of love. Since we moved in when we did, we didn’t have an opportunity to do anything really before the snow fell.
Over the past few months, I have been dreaming of our yard with all the flower beds and large vegetable gardens and wondering what it will look like in the thick of summer. As soon as the snow melted over the past month, I have been slowly trimming trees, cutting back perennials and tidying up flower beds. Now that the weather is (sporadically) getting warmer, I have noticed some greenery in our flower beds. I have gone out every single day to examine the beds to see what else is showing life after this long winter and what an absolute joy it is to see little bits of green pop up here and there around our home.
As I was out there this past weekend, elbow deep in overgrown plants, I was trimming the tops off of this beautiful spirea bush we have under our front window. I had my gloves on and my shears out, and it got me thinking about what the Bible tells us about pruning. With trees or bushes, pruning is cutting away dead branches or stems, especially to increase growth during the season. Pruning not only applies to bushes in the Spring, but it also applies to things in our own lives. God can prune various things in our lives – things that are causing death and distance from Him – in order that we can increase in growth.
John 15:2 says, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it may bear more fruit.” As I was cutting down the dead branches of this spirea, I knew that by me doing this the plant will flourish, grow bigger and be more healthy than if I left the branches there. Without pruning, the plant would have to fight through dead branches for new growth.
For me, this past year has been a year of pruning. I am the type of person that thrives in structure, support and control, and this year has been, well, anything but that. I have felt God gently prying my hand open of things that I have been clinging to, but I needed to surrender to Him. This process has been challenging and even painful at times, but I know that the pruning leads to growth and life.
As I look back over this past year, I am beginning to see the growth that has come out of a season of pruning. I am beginning to trust God with the right now and with the what’s to come. I am beginning to seek comfort and guidance from Him first rather than from the world. I am seeing how my attitude and perspective not only shapes my life, but it shapes my family’s life as well.
As I was pruning the spirea this weekend, I didn’t do it sporadically and harshly, I did it intentionally and gently, and I feel that is how God prunes things in our lives as well. It may sound silly, but bear with me here – I want what’s best for this plant. I want it to be beautiful and healthy, and I know that pruning it now will enable it to thrive in the upcoming months. As I looked down at my spirea, I noticed that the pruning from the previous years was still there. I could clearly see where the previous owners had cut back the bush several years before. That’s the neat thing about pruning in our own lives – I feel like we are marked by it. It shows us where we were, and how far we have grown because of it. In the same way, God will gently prune things in various areas of our lives because He knows that by doing so, we will not only grow, but we will flourish and produce fruit.
John 15:4-5 says “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” When we abide with Jesus and spend time with Him, He will reveal to us what needs to be pruned. Maybe it’s control, pride, an unhealthy habit or relationship – whatever it is, He is revealing that to you so that you can grow! Pruning is hard and it seems painful, but through pruning comes fruit.
I encourage you to get outside and take a walk this week. Look closely at nature around you and see the life that is starting to happen. Think back over this past year. Maybe you also went through a season of pruning, and maybe you’re also starting to see little glimpses of new growth in your own life. Celebrate it! Pruning is hard but leads to overwhelming growth and abundant life.