John 2:2-5 – (Jesus said,) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you.
Gratitude Day 753
Every so often, bushes just need haircuts.
They get overgrown. Too big. Wild. Overdramatic.
Or sometimes, they stop producing good “fruit,” whether that be flowers, fruit or something else.
When we moved to our current house, there were two lilac bushes between us and our neighbors. One lilac was old. It had a curved trunk which wined around in a cool and clever way.
The other bush was gangly. It wanted to be pretty but couldn’t be. It was too close to the old lilac and needed space to breathe.
Over time, the old lilac bush began to rot away. He just didn’t look good. Rick trimmed it but this only made it worse. So, he completely removed the old lilac bush and gave a big old haircut to the struggling lilac bush. A serious trim job. Its size dwarfed in comparison to what it used to be.
The trim job was almost two years ago. Last year, the remaining lilac bush recovered from its dramatic haircut. Slowly, it filled out. It appreciated more space and less crowding by the other bush. It discovered that it could be pretty all on its own. It just needed time.
This year, the lilac bush came back to life slowly. We knew it would grow; it just needed time. So, we waited. When everyone else’s lilacs were blooming, our was still growing leaves. Just this past week, it begin to get clusters of buds. With some rain, soon it was bursting with beautiful and fragrant pale lavender buds. In the last couple of days, the bush has because lovely and all its own.
But it began with the haircut. The trim. The cutting back of the old and not-so-good stuff so the new shoots could sprout and grow into beautiful new branches. Without the trim, it would have been OK but not the beautiful bush it is today.
We do not seem to mind cutting back our plants or bushes or shrubs. But how do we feel when the trimming comes into our lives? When some major “trunk” in our lives is cut down and we are left with a gapping hole? Or when we have given up a good chunk of ourselves, and we wonder if we should continue? What about when the trimming comes a little too close for our comfort? Or the trim leaves us looking a little bedraggled?
None of these situations is pleasant. Or wonderful. We might even moan and complain about how we look and/or are affected. Or cry or shout or whale.
We hate the trimming for ourselves and often push back. It’s unfair or too much or causes us to question too many things. When trimming happens to someone close to our hearts, it can be just as painful as if it happened to ourselves.
Trimming can be hard. Uncomfortable. Difficult.
Yet, for new growth to happen, trimming is necessary. The old stuff must be removed. Our hearts and souls need space to breathe and be. Trimming means more fruit in our lives … but first, requires trimming.
What does trimming look like? Unexpected changes in our lives. Little or big bumps along the way which often involve pain, discomfort and disappointment. These setbacks aren’t fun. Usually, we avoid them and wonder why they are necessary. We question God’s place in our lives and if we are truly loved.
On the last night Jesus was with his disciples, he shared with them that they would have some trimming in their lives. They had no clue how quickly or dramatically the trimming would be. They could not imagine that within 24 hours, everything they thought they knew would be turned upside down. He tried to warn them. Like us, we do not always heed the warnings and assume bad things will not happen to us.
Until they do.
If you find yourself in a bit of trimming right now, I pray that you can hear Jesus’ words that eventually, there can be some really good fruit that will come about because of this trimming. Life may look and feel a little scraggly right now and for a while. But if we hold tight, some fruit will come. It may be disguised and not look very promising. It may take a while and we will question so much in the meantime. Meaning can come … if we wait. Hold tight. Keep our eyes turned towards the One who never, ever leaves us.
One day, some beautiful lilacs may show up in your life. I pray we celebrate their beauty and fragrance. Their soft color and delicateness. The joy they bring to our lives. Trimming is hard and not fun. But the promise of something tomorrow can be worth it.
For the beauty, hope and joy that can come out of trimming, I am grateful.
Holy God – Thank you for the beautiful lilacs that showed up in my life this week. Thank you for the promise that trimming is difficult and hard but can also produce beautiful fruit or flowers. Help me hold fast when the trimming in my life feels difficult and hard. Amen.
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