It sounds a lot like hard work.
Because is it.
Yard work is hard work.
It's back-breaking, knee-rubbing, feet-numbing, dirt-under-your-nails, sweat-across-your-brow type of work.
But it's also rewarding.
March through October, there is work to be done. It follows a necessary order.
After all, April showers bring flowers and May flowers bring...?
I know... You're thinking, "That Candace...she's so..." Clever?! Funny?!
Nah, cheesy! I know, I've come to accept it, so I freely layer on the cheese. Except on my plate. My stomach says otherwise. So, I figure I might as well make up for it with my jokes!
But there is an order to things. March and April are the preparation, May is the time for planting, Summer and Fall for watering and feeding, and Winter is the time for rest.
Each Spring, there is work to be done and preparations to be made.
It's not glamourous. It doesn't feel good. Actually, it feels quite harsh to both the plant and the gardener. But, it is necessary.
It's the process of pruning.
...The common sound effects you'll hear in my yard as I bravely approach these rose bushes that were once so full and beautiful but now stand here bare. Wearing gloves and long-sleeves, yet the thorns still manage to find their way into my skin.
It starts out as a little poke, then another, and grows into an annoying prickly match and ends with my hands feeling bare and raw.
The pruning process, I've learned, can be reduced to just four simple (but painful) steps.
Remove the leaves.
Cut the canes so it is open.
Cut the taller canes back to the new bud.
Cut at a 45 degree angle to welcome rainwater.
Seems simple, quick even. But the thing is, it's not just for my roses.
It's for my heart, too. And that - the pruning of our hearts - follows the same pattern but it's just as painful (if not more) and is not so simple and not nearly as quick.
Pruning the Heart
This stripping away of the old prepares us for the new.
1. Like the leaves on the rose bush, the old, dead things taking up space in our hearts must be removed. Maybe for you, it's relationship or a plan - you thought life was going to be different. Maybe it's an attitude or a perspective. Maybe a narrative you're replaying in your mind. Do some soul searching. Walk down into that space, see what's written on the walls, and take your eraser with you. It's time to clear the space and reclaim this part of your heart to beat again.
2. Like the canes, parts of us have to be cut back. If the canes of our hearts are crossing each other and twisting around, it's like the bush that's so tightly connected it can't breathe. We must be pruned back so we can be open to new growth. What is this for you? What's crowding your walk with God? What has you so tightly wound that you don't have time to be present? Remember, these can even be good things. Let's choose the better thing.
3. This next part - it doesn't always sit well with me, I must admit. I don't like the idea of cutting the taller canes back to the new bud. I worked so hard to fertilize and water this last year so it could grow this tall, and now I'm supposed to cut it? Feels a bit like two steps forward and one step back. Like getting a trim when I'm trying to grow out my hair, it seems counter-intuitive. It even induces tears! (Yes, I've cried over a hair cut more than once in my life.) But, it's the cutting back that promotes and facilitates new growth. Where are you being cut back? Maybe you're in the first few weeks of a new job and your pride is being cut back. It's the promotion you've been waiting for, yet every task is taking three times longer to complete because you are back at square one asking a million questions. Learning the ropes doesn't happen over night nor should it. All to say, there's much to learn in the cutting back. Without the cutting back, we can't reach new heights. Hang in there. Stay the course. Ask the questions. And remember what this feels like, so you will be able to pour into your next recruit or whatever it is you're facing.
4. The cut end feels exposed. The wind and evening temperatures are a new experience for this cane. It will need water to grow. So will we. We begin to thirst for rainwater only heaven can give.
A good gardener knows you must prune to bear fruit. A vine cannot bear new fruit without cutting the dead and unwanted parts away. The Gardener must be very close when pruning a branch.
In the same way, God is our most perfect Gardener. As we abide in Him and He in us, He identifies those areas in our lives which are holding us back and keeping us from experiencing greater depths of life to the full and intimacy with Him.
It's not a cut to inflict pain but a cut to promote growth!
He is growing us!
He is doing something new in us!
He wants us to bear His fruit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control - so others may come and
"Taste and see that the Lord is good!" - Psalm 34:8
Just as we can bite into a sweet cherry, juicy peach, or a ripe strawberry and the flavor explodes in our mouths and awakens our senses to goodness, so our lives can flavor our world and awaken souls to God's goodness.
This pruning we endure is not punishment but mercy shown to us as we abide with the Gardener and He with us. This pruning frees us to learn and grow so we can live lives that glorify Him!
Let us find strength in the days we are being pruned that it's from the hand of a good Gardener. May our joy build as we are untangled and opened up to receive new growth. May our peace renew with heaven's rain and bring our souls to a place of rest so others are drawn to the fruit in our lives.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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