I was walking through a spring-time city to work this morning, noticing gardens that clearly have been pruned over many years and bearing the beauty of it all. I also walked past some mostly untouched nature and I remembered some gardens I have seen elsewhere in the world.
However this post is not on gardening, but on human beings.
I have seen beauty in wild nature, in ‘untouched’ nature… just as I have in humans that have a somewhat pure hearted wildness to them. They seem to reflect the beauty of a rough diamond, yet sometimes it becomes abundantly clear that some shaping and friction that will duly follow as a consequence of this wildness will have the power to bring forth in them the stunning beauty hidden within, or destroy them utterly.
Jesus speaks of the wine stock, how it must be pruned regularly to bear worthwhile and good fruit. He likens us to that wine stock; He also makes use of the example of clay to illustrate this point, undergoing a process of moulding and shaping, mostly through people God puts into our lives, to bring out Christ-likeness more.
As every good gardener, He knows, how much to cut away, to make providence for a unique taste and quality of its fruit. As every excellent artist He knows, just how much to chip away of the material, to conform it to the wanted image, yet maintain its uniqueness.
I have found that good leaders possess this quality of a good gardener too. They discover the passionate heart and prune it in a way, that it remains uniquely beautiful, yet most effective and useful to the kingdom of God.
However sometimes having the ability is just not enough to be a good gardener as well.
I have also seen leaders, that prune not to conform to Christ, but to mould people as stepping stones to own glory, to push them into moulds of ‘perfect little Christians’ and crippled they souls while shackling their spirits instead.
With skill comes a power, that when abused causes destruction and has an utter crippling effect to the whole person.
How can you and I avoid crippling, yet allow appropriate pruning in our walks with Christ?
- I would say as a Christian (a person that follows Christ that HEARS and OBEYS His voice) you first of all should ask for His guidance when choosing a church.
- Once you have chosen a church, and are assured that is where God wants you, submit to your leadership and their pruning. Trusting that GOD is in control throughout, knowing what He is doing.
- Hold still while being pruned appropriately, if we withdraw from the artist or gardener unfinished or in a moulding/chipping/pruning process, we are bound to get hurt!
- Remain teachable. Yes, stay in conversation with God to make sure you are where you should be, that pruning is happening and that your heart remains teachable.
God is not confused, He is not surprised by who you are, He is not even surprised by your own agenda in matters. Trust Him. Submit to Him. His agenda is to prune you… to Christ-likeness… on a daily basis.
This will at times cause spiritual ‘growing pains’. Allow them, embrace them and take them for what they are. Rejoice over correction; celebrate when sin gets exposed, knowing God does so to set you free of it; and continue to seek His face daily in the most intimate possible to you!
May God bless you!