Summary: Most believers think that God is mad at them, when it’s only His loving hand that strips away the dead works of flesh to reveal the fruit that will never perish
Prune until you bloom
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful, (John 15:1-2).
Most believers think that God is mad at them, when it’s only His loving hand that strips away the dead works of flesh to reveal the fruit that will never perish. I was called into ministry some fourteen years ago, and looking back I realize how much baggage needed to go, and even now He isn’t finished.
One day God will release me to fulfill His calling, but while I wait I must finish the process He started. Pruning is painful and we are quick to cry out, “God! Why does it have to hurt so much?” He would then tell us as He told Paul with his thorn that, “My grace is sufficient. My power is perfected in weakness.” We must endure the suffering to reap the glory of His design.
First, we wonder if it’s because of sin, and then if the devil is at work against us. But we often fail to see that it’s mostly His hand of discipline to prepare us for service, and anyone who is prominent has gone through the fire, being painfully stripped of everything that would hinder them from being all they can be in Him. We must all be pruned until we bloom.
Let me tell you briefly what God has done in my wife Sheri and myself a few years ago. First, God sent us from our family church in Redwood City Ca to our new family in Petaluma Ca. The transition was tough, which anyone who has gone through one would testify.
We bought a house and things looked good, but our relationship wasn’t there. We had only been married a couple years, still newlyweds, and God had some work to do in us.
He then sent us a couple in our church that counseled us for a year, and turned our marriage around one hundred eighty degrees. With the Holy Spirit, some good Christian common sense and Gary Smalley, our relationship is now flourishing.
Honor is everything in a relationship. It’s our baggage and selfishness that makes our road so rocky, that not even a four-wheel drive can travel on it. God must come in and clear out the rocks, fill in the holes, and repave the surface of our souls, so we can stand ourselves, and then others.
The test started with Sheri coming down with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and becoming disabled from work. We both knew that she had to work at least part time to pay the bills, and God allowed this for a reason, nothing happens just by chance.
We quickly realized that we were financially living on a prayer, that God would find out just what our faith was made of. Things went from bad to worse when Sheri had to have surgery because of a bone spur in her shoulder. This we believe caused a rare disease called Reflexive Sympothetic Dystrophy or RSD, which can be caused by an injury or surgery.
She has the kind of pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but she pressed into Him, and grew instead of throwing in the towel, and getting angry at God.
Would we trust him or would we panic and step in and do things ourselves? I’m an aircraft mechanic for a major airline, and my union was in the process of negotiating a contract, then came Sept 11, and getting a raise looked bleak.
Our finances were at rock bottom, and I had to take a second job, to see things through. My day for four months started at six-thirty in the morning, and didn’t end until eleven-thirty at night.
Look at the Patriarchs and the Apostles. They all went through the fires of adversity on the way to glory. Like overgrown trees, we must be stripped to the bone, have our fields plowed up, and our soil fertilized before we can yield the fruit the master has planned. This is a painful process that many of us misinterpret as something bad.
Jesus in (Lk, 22:31) told Peter that Satan desired to sift him as wheat. Being sifted is actually a good thing, because what remains is the wheat. Jesus then told him that He had prayed for him, that his faith wouldn’t fail. Our faith is then severely tested during this process.
Will we discern what God is doing, and let it grow or will we hinder our growth, struggling until He gets our attention to let Him prune until we bloom.