When I first started gardening, the idea of pruning intimidated me. I wondered: How do you know where to prune? And, doesn’t it damage the bush or tree?
Now that I know how to do it, I’m amazed at how pruning works. It’s like directing the plant by saying, “Nope. You don’t need that branch. That’s a dead-end.” And the shrub or tree will then grow in a new way. Pruning doesn’t stop or limit growth because new growth is always happening.
God works in a similar way in our lives. He lovingly shows us how to avoid the dead-end roads so that we can avoid wasting energy going the wrong way. These dead-end roads consist of materiality such as a love of money, looking to material possessions for satisfaction, looking to another human being to “complete us,” looking to our bodies to report on how happy and healthy we are, and comparing ourselves with others to determine success. These are just a few examples, but there are many other dead-end roads.
Christ Jesus advised: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14, New International Version).
When you prune a shrub, you’re helping that shrub fulfill its purpose. You probably planted it for a reason: to help create privacy or to cover something unattractive or just to have pretty flowers to enjoy. Whatever the reason, pruning—and starting to prune early on—will help the plant grow into something beautiful and useful.
God, our “gardener,” created us for a purpose—to flourish in His beautiful garden. Each of us is like a flower or plant, or even a bouquet that portrays diverse, spiritual qualities. It wouldn’t make sense to gather a bouquet of flowers and also include a bunch of noxious weeds! Similarly, God is ensuring that only the good qualities that He creates are included in us—such as meekness, patience, love, tenderness, and intelligence.
Through prayer and listening to God, we become receptive to His pruning and guiding of our thoughts. These thoughts are then expressed in right actions and exemplified in our lives. And we can feel peace and security knowing that God is always with us, tenderly and gently leading, guiding, and protecting us on His path of unfailing good.