I’m smack dab in the middle of a pruning season. Like I’m being cut on a little more every single day. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. I’d be lying through the skin of my teeth. This season of pruning isn’t the cute one where you pick off the leaves or the wilting petals. This season is an uprooting.
I’m no gardener. Not by any means. I just like to pretend that I am. I like to go out and plant flowers that make my front entryway look appealing. I know a minimal amount about what I’m doing. I generally stick to plants that I can plant and forget about. For the last 3 years, I’ve had a plant called Canna Lilies. They’re the absolute best for me. I planted them and have allowed nature to take its course. Sometimes I go out and pour a leftover bottle of water on them and that’s good enough for me. Somehow, in spite of my awful tending to them, they grow into big leafy plants with gorgeous flowers.
But a few years ago, I tried to plant flowers. I work with a group of landscape architects or as I affectionately call them, plant nerds. They know a bunch of miscellaneous facts about all types of plants. I asked a couple of people to recommend some plants and they gave me a great variety. So armed with a list, I went to the local gardening store in search of a few flowers to plant. I can’t remember what kind I got so I won’t even lie to you. I just know that they were flowers that had already bloomed and all I had to do was plant them.
I got these flowers home and dug the holes and dropped them in. I live in an apartment so we have landscapers come and take care of most of the yard work so there wasn’t much I had to do to start with. Literally dig the hole, drop the flowers in, cover the hole with the dirt, and occasionally water them. That’s it. Or so I thought.
The thing I didn’t do, but should have done, was to provide continual maintenance to the plants. Even with watering and the correct amount of sunlight, the flowers still died. Because I wasn’t pruning. I didn’t take care of them completely. But more than that, I didn’t go in and uproot the stuff that was buried deep. I just planted them and didn’t pay attention to the ground I was planting them in.
In Mark 4, Jesus begins to teach His disciples a parable about a farmer going out to plant seeds. As the farmer threw out the seeds, it fell on different types of ground. Some fell on the ground where people walked and it didn’t get into the ground and the birds ate it. Some of the seeds fell on shallow soil, soil that wasn’t dug deep enough. Although it grew, it couldn’t take root because of the rocks underneath and ultimately it died.
I want to focus on the last two types of soil today. Looking at the third type of soil, there is a lot that we can learn from it. This soil is hostile. It’s full of thorns and weeds and deadly things. When the farmer threw the seeds into this ground, the plants and the weeds and thorns grew up together. But as the plants matured, the weeds and thorns choked the life out of the plants and these plants died. They couldn’t bear fruit. It seemed as if they would grow to be healthy, happy plants but their life was cut short all because the ground had not been tilled and tended to. The ground wasn’t prepped, readied or maintained in order to sustain life growing in it.
God has been showing me the areas in my life that are like the third type of soil. He has been pointing out the thorns and thistles and weeds in my heart and mind that keep growth from happening. He’s been pointing out the areas that have hindered Him from being able to do in my life what He wants to do. Too often, we leave things undealt with in our hearts and minds because the process is painful. (And I mean REALLY painful) But when we leave these things to take residence in our heart and mind rent free, we end up paying the price. We end up paying in time, in heartache, in disappointment and stagnancy. If we don’t evict these things out of our lives, they take root and grow INSTEAD of the good things we try to plant. Bitterness grows and kills love. Jealousy and envy grows and kills joy. Arrogance grows and chokes out humility. Pride grows and kills being teachable.
For this reason, God has been aggressively uprooting those weeds, thorns, and thistles in my life that have been killing my growth. In the Christian community we talk a lot about pruning as a cutesy process, but if I can be real for a moment, sometimes pruning becomes a violent overhaul of our hearts and minds. If we are to be conformed into the likeness of Christ, we have to! Paul talks about casting down AND taking captive every thought and imagination that exalts itself above the knowledge of Christ. These aren’t passive or pansy actions. These are actions that are forceful and assertive.
I’m here. This is the place where I am. I’m fed up with my growth being stagnated and or choked out completely. I’m ready for God to purify the ground of my heart and mind so that the things that are planted can have a chance to grow. That’s what the fourth soil was in the parable in Mark. It was soil that had gone through the process of being weeded out and tilled and broken and plucked and readied for the seeds that were to be planted. It was good ground.
I don’t know where you are, but I hope that you’re like me or that you’re getting there. To the place where you’re just done with allowing the thorns and thistles and weeds of life that have been harbored in your heart and mind to continue to choke out the growth in your life. Get fed up with rejection and bitterness and competition, and pride, and envy, and every other kind of deeply rooted heart evil keeping you from experiencing the fullness that God has for you. Allow God to prune (not the cute kind, the UGLY kind) and uproot those things and to tear them up so your life can bear good fruit.
What areas in your life is God pruning? How can I pray for you? Comment below or message me. I really want to hear from you. Like I always say, let’s continue to grow together as we grow in Him.
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