Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No Pain--No Gain


My gardenias are blooming again.  Love this time of year.  The blooms are ever so delicate and fragrant.  I know that the blossoms won't last long and are easily damaged by the spring rains, so I clip the white beauties as quicikly as they appear and bring them inside to arrange and enjoy. 

I was noticing today that the blossoms aren't as prolific as usual, and realized that it is probably way past time for some serious pruning.  It caused me to reflect back on a time not too long ago when I learned firsthand the value of this process. 

Gardening is not one of my passions or passtimes.  My good friend, Rhonda, is quite gifted with all things green and growing, and she was living with us at the time.  She always seemed to know instinctively what needed to be done in the yard and when.  Our property has never looked so good as when she was here.  The grounds of her own home are a veritable Garden of Eden.  Our yard looks more like Eden after the Fall unless someone intervenes in it's behalf. . . . . sigh.

Okay . . . . back to the story . . . .

Rhonda came to me one day and asked for permission to prune the gardenia bush.  She explained that unless the bush was severely pruned, it would not produce the blooms that it could otherwise.  I innocently agreed, having absolutely no clue what this meant in reality.  I just blindly trusted her. 


Her sure and steady hands began to demonstrate her expertise at this task.  As she went to work with those big shears, I saw something in her eyes I had never seen before . . . . she was on a mission!!  She clipped. . . . she snipped . . . . she chopped . . . . she lopped . . . . she was merciless!!  By the time she had finished, it looked for all the world as if she had killed my bush.  It was totally unrecognizable!!  I was horrified and filled with regret . . . . she reassured me that it would be alright. . . . I wasn't sure at all.

As time passed, I got used to the mutilated sight of the butchered bush and didn't think about it much anymore.  Quietly and without much fanfare, it began to flourish again and put out new green growth.  Slowly, the seasons changed, until one day the little white blooms began to pop out.  I hadn't even noticed that the bush was now heavy laden with buds.  As the days passed and the fullness of time came, I was amazed at what I saw . . . the bush was completely ablaze with glory!  I have never since seen such blooms as we had that year.  I had to admit that the pruning had for sure delivered the goods.

Everytime I looked at those gardenias that spring, I thought of the following verse in  2 Corinthians 4:17 . . . .
For this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
I wouldn't have called the severe pruning that I witnessed momentary, light affliciton at the time.  It seemed more like a sentence of death.   But this covering of beauty I now beheld was indeed a good picture of the weight of glory, far beyond all comparison!! 

Okay, okay, she convinced me!  I now believe in the value of pruning!!

But what about when it's my turn?  What then?  What about when everything surrounding me is apparently thriving and luscious . . . . and I'm basking in the sunlight of this life I'm living, enjoying all the many blessings of God?  What happens when suddenly I see the Master Gardener's BIG shears gleaming in the light . . . . and I see that look of determination in His eyes as He approaches?  What then, when I feel everything being lopped off and falling away from  me . . . . everything that was once good and familiar and certain and comfortable . . . . and I stand there, uncovered, feeling naked and disoriented . . . . and cold . . . . what then? 

It is then that I must remember the parabolic promises of Jesus:
I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser.  Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit . . . . and when you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.  John 15: 1-2, 8 AMP

Poppa, we who are Your own know that you hold our lives in the palms of Your hands.  You are intimately acquainted with everything that touches our lives.  You orchestrate each season of our journey Heavenward . . . . you carefully watch over the ebb and flow of our suffering and joy . . . . You are faithful, and we trust in Your unfailing love for us.  We submit ourselves again to You, without reserve, knowing that You alone deserve all the glory that comes forth from these seasons of pruning.  The worthless branches, we don't want anyway . . . . the fruitful branches we offer to your process of greater fruitfuless. You are good.

Faithful are the woundings of a Friend.  Prov. 27:6
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven . . . .  
He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Eccl.  3: 1, 11 

Here's to more excellent fruit . . . . fruit that remains. . . .and an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison!