"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." ~John 15:2 (NIV)
This is an image of a beautifully pruned Japanese Maple Tree
We have a Japanese Maple in our front yard. It is most beautiful at the beginning of Spring when the leaves are almost shockingly vibrant. But as beautiful as the tree is, it is also a pest because we don't trim the branches. One of the branches have grown over the walkway to the front door, and so we are constantly ducking, walking into the branch, or getting hit in the face as someone releases the branch directly in our path. My attachment to the beauty of the leaves (little picture), joined with my lack of skill to trim the tree branches, keeps me holding on to a branch that is both dangerous, and takes away from the overall character of the tree (big picture).
God has always been so faithful to amaze me in each of my ministry's growth spurts. But I continue to be baffled at how I ALWAYS forget about the pruning part of the growth process. For some reason I never fail to assume that every "branch" attached to me is one meant to bear fruit, and become a permanent fixture in my final glory. I foolishly assume that I am creating REAL relationships, when what most [others] are creating is an arrangement. But the pruning process, which can be shocking and always painful, serves as a great reminder of the truth: whats R.E.A.L. (Relationships, Ever, Abiding in Love*) will never be shaken or removed; and, holding on to whats dead is a hazard (and yes sometimes even an eyesore) to the long term growth of the vision.
As you can see in the image above, Japanese Maples can grow very high. The key is in cutting the wide thin branches diverting adequate resources to the tall thick branches....still resulting in wide shade cover, but with added beauty, height, and character.
Friends if you are like me and you find yourself completely forgetting about or unskilled in the pruning process, let's make a change starting today! The moment you start praying and planning for growth...as you pen that first word of your new goals...anticipate loss to follow. Take a long hard look around and let some draining, dying, or dead relationships go. Which wide (wild), thin (shallow and superficial) branches need pruning in your life today so that the R.E.A.L.* branches can receive the needed nourishment to grow deeper roots and a higher, wider reach?And when relationships and arrangements start falling off, REJOICE! The void will help others see the beauty of your design, and how they can add to the big picture. Make room for them, because you know that God has answered your prayer, and the growth process has begun!
Here We Grow Again!!! Happy Monday Friends!
*R.E.A.L. - Relationships, Ever, Abiding, in Love is the Intellectual Property of Costly Oil LP and Dawn L. Bedingfield, Inc. All Rights Reserved.