Thursday, June 23, 2005

Running From The Gardener

prune (proon), v. 1. to rid or clear of anything superfluous or undesirable.

I now understand why I have been so tired lately. I have been running away from pruning shears. For some time now I have been growing increasingly discontent with people and situations around me. Sometimes discontent turned to anger and actual bitterness toward people, namely my closest neighbors. They were inconsiderate. They were disrespectful. They were ....(fill in the blank here with anything derogatory). I prayed about this. A lot. But nothing changed. They were still inconsiderate. I was still resentful. Why didn't He change them? Didn't He know how miserable they were making me?

I finally reached a breaking point and told Him that I really couldn't deal with this anymore. It was then, while on my knees admitting defeat, that I realized that I hadn't once apologized to Him for my bitterness. My neighbors were His children, too, just as I was. Would I like it if I had a child who felt contempt and bitterness toward a sibling who was also one of my children? Of course not. I am not proud of how long it took me to change my prayer from "Change them, Lord", to "Change me, Lord". I was one who needed to be more tolerant, patient and understanding. That was why having peace with my neighbors was so elusive. I was asking for the wrong thing the whole time, and God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that if He changed them, I would learn nothing, and could not grow. Thus began my pruning.

My neighbors may or may not change; all I need to concern myself with is being the child that He wants me to be.

Being pruned is being disciplined, but who is doing the pruning is what makes all the difference. Some parents will discipline a child, but it's really just a control issue; it's not about the child at all, and the only thing to grow out of that will be resentment. But some parents will discipline out of love and concern for that child, and out of that will grow patience, love and understanding.

So now I see what a tangly vine I have become, and that I cannot grow if I am not properly pruned. And I am quite sure He's not finished just yet, either! That's okay though, because I know that what comes afterwards will be much better. But, oh! those pruning shears are sharp!

He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. - John 15:2

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness. - Galatians 5:22

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