Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Pruning

Pruning Season

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2 (ESV)

Gardening brings me awe and great joy. The activities of creation are entertainment to me.

For as long as I can remember, the outdoors has been my place of respite, a break from the to-do list that always seemed to originate indoors. For some, rest is found in coming in. I prefer spending quiet times in the yard because it is here that I witness how God has structured the laws under which life exists.

Three years ago today, I wrote about the importance of rest, likening winter to a Sabbath time. We require time and seasons for renewal. God designed it this way. Our lives include both day and night. Stopping our work is a commandment written in Exodus 20:9-10 (ESV), which says, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work...” God blesses the “setting down of the load.”

Years have come and gone, and as I have come through yet another winter season, I know that it is time to address the garden’s needs before spring shows up.

It’s time to prune.

Like a fruiting plant, I am maturing. This is the year that God has pointed out the time to cut back is at the end of the rest period. It’s at this time that the leaves are absent, revealing the true state of the branches. The bare bones of the plant show what has not survived heat of summer, damage of harvest and the bitter cold of winter.

I’ve come through a tough year. There is damage done, yet there has also been wonderful fruit. According to God’s cyclical design, rest was a requirement. And I took it. Slowing my pace, going on vacation, and taking naps were all a part of that rest. Reading replaced studying. I invited prayer. I shared with trusted people. I listened.

The rest has given me the nurturing to be ready for cutting season. I scrutinize my bare bones and know that I cannot be fruitful if growth continues in certain areas. I’ve been holding up dead weight. These areas must go.

Yet there are parts of me that have been strong and faithful. Parts of my life that have produced great fruit year after year. It makes sense that these “tried and true” parts should be preserved...right?

John 15:2 tells us that God trims both the nonproductive and the productive. One for being dead weight, the other to make room for more. All pruning for the purpose of more fruit.

What goes? The new shoot or faithful stock? The Gardener chooses. How will I respond?

If I hold too tightly to the fruit of my past, I will resent the cut. Be resentful of the Cutter too. I will not rejoice in the new fruit because I am focusing on the loss rather than the intended gain. If I have faith in God, I will accept His choice in pruning, perhaps grieving the loss, without becoming angry and resentful.

Pruning demands faith. Faith in the Gardener, not in the fruit.

The purpose of winter is renewal of the soil. While little happens outside, everything is happening inside. The building up of the soil is the building up of faith. Look closely. Cuttings become compost that replenish the soil. Everything is useful, there is no waste in the garden. And timing is everything.

I hope that you can glean from personal seasons of fruitfulness that God is faithful to produce fruit through you. I pray that you trust in His wisdom of rest and reliance for renewal of your heart. And I pray that your growing faith produces feelings of assurance and hope, in the midst of pruning season.

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior. 

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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