What I Was Seeing When I Was Sawing

BranchesSnap. Pop. Crack. Timb-u-u-u-r!

That’s what I was hearing the other day as branches piled up around me. (Okay, maybe not the timb-u-u-u-r part, but it does add to the effect, eh?) And what a pile it was! Ironically, when I first began cutting and thinning, I thought it would only be a few twigs and sticks. Apparently not. My work resulted in over 2 truckloads of woody debris.

At times I cut away limbs that were dead — no leaves at all. Other times, I was working on branches that were alive, but needed shaping. Lightening. More space. All in all, it was an evening of purging and pruning.

The whole time I’m sawing, here’s what I’m seeing in my mind’s eye: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away, and every branch in me that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2).

Now I’m not sure if you ever ask yourself stupid questions, but as this verse replayed over and over in my mind, a ridiculous thought interrupted my lumberjack moment with God and chased itself across my mental screen: If this tree could feel, would it really believe that what I’m doing is actually for its own good? (Remember, this is all occurring while I’m hacking away.) Back and forth, back and forth … crack! Back and forth, back and forth … pop! Seriously? Cutting into the “flesh and sap” of this tree is going to benefit it in the long run?

As odd as it seems, the answer is yes. A painful yes;  a time-consuming yes. But a yes nonetheless.

Guess what? The answer is yes when it comes to us as well. That’s right — when God has to “hack away” at a part of my life that he knows needs shaping, it is for my good. When he cuts into a branch of my life and trims it back, it is ultimately for my benefit — more fruit later. When he has to remove dead limbs, he’s doing me a favor, even though it seems, for the moment, difficult. Such is the purging and pruning work of God — painfully and necessarily beneficial. Truthfully, this back-and-forth work of his can be nothing but good, for he is good.

So be thankful. Rejoice. Shout hallelujah. The Vine Dresser is taking good care of you, and his careful attention to your spiritual shape, character formation, and fruit potential is rooted in his impeccable ability to bring out his best in you, even when it seems to hurt the most.

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