The view from my kitchen sink seems not to have changed all that much for several months now. No leaves on the trees, no fruit on the vines, no blooms on the canes. Seemingly dead bushes and trees. But this morning I imagined a symphony rehearsing what will be a spectacular performance in a few short weeks from now. It’s as if the whole earth is rumbling getting ready for the pageantry of spring. The sun even seems to be eagerly anticipating the presentation of the spectacular!
The days are longer — several more minutes every day add to the glow of the evenings. I see the canes of the many bushes in my rose garden… I picture the pinks, whites, peaches, yellows and reds. I smile as I anticipate coming mornings where I will walk around to smell the roses and see each day’s handiwork of the Lord. I can almost feel the warmth of the sun on my face and nearly squint at the hope of the brightness of the sunshine.
But first… pruning. Soon, I’ll go out to cut back the unproductive canes, the thickest and seemingly best and strongest canes and the work will appear to have destroyed each rosebush. Each year as I prune the roses, I have this nearly gasping feeling that maybe this year the pruning will yield results opposite to my intent — and that intent is abundance of blooms and healthy plants – the deeper the pruning, the more prolific the yield – it will seem that the whole bush will be sacrificed. I used to give in to the feeling that taking away or deeply pruning canes would result in fewer beautiful roses since the canes would be fewer and shorter. So, in another of my many lessons from the garden, in those years there were very few roses and the bushes were diseased and weren’t beautifully full of rich shades of green leaves and buds.
I suppose it’s much like the children of Israel wondering if they will be protected, fed and led by the Lord. Doubting God. They chose their own way, they reasoned they knew better than God what was best for them. We often doubt that God will do what He has said He will do.
Well, I suppose that a garden of fragrant blooms isn’t exactly a promise of the Lord, but He has demonstrated to me, countless times over the years, His ways in the garden are pictures for me of His ways in my life, in my heart and in my home. The doubting He will guide and provide, the wondering if He is seeing and hearing and then the experiencing of His deep pruning the foolish, wasteful, unproductive areas of my life. Well, that’s the same with the roses. I love the Lord— and see His tender care for, in my life as in my garden, the deeper the pruning the sweeter the blooming.
I smiled as I read today’s Streams in the Desert… as God would have it, the devotion was on the importance of pruning. :o) God is sweet to me — always demonstrating His presence and confirming His ways.
So, here’s today’s Stream… may you be blessed as I am in the reading of it:
Pruned to Yield Fruit
“And every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).
A child of God was dazed by the variety of afflictions which seemed to make her their target. Walking past a vineyard in the rich autumnal glow she noticed the untrimmed appearance and the luxuriant wealth of leaves on the vines, that the ground was given over to a tangle of weeds and grass, and that the whole place looked utterly uncared for; and as she pondered, the Heavenly Gardener whispered so precious a message that she would fain pass it on:
“My dear child, are you wondering at the sequence of trials in your life? Behold that vineyard and learn of it. The gardener ceases to prune, to trim, to harrow, or to pluck the ripe fruit only when he expects nothing more from the vine during that season. It is left to itself, because the season of fruit is past and further effort for the present would yield no profit. Comparative uselessness is the condition of freedom from suffering. Do you then wish me to cease pruning your life? Shall I leave you alone?” And the comforted heart cried, “No!”
It is the branch that bears the fruit,
That feels the knife,
To prune it for a larger growth,
A fuller life.
Though every budding twig be lopped,
And every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf,
Be lost a space.
O thou whose life of joy seems reft,
Of beauty shorn;
Whose aspirations lie in dust,
All bruised and torn,
Rejoice, tho’ each desire, each dream,
Each hope of thine
Shall fall and fade; it is the hand
Of Love Divine
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks
With tenderest touch,
That thou, whose life has borne some fruit
May’st now bear much.
–Annie Johnson Flint
I receive the Streams in the Desert by email each day, but am so blessed to have an original 1925 copy of the book, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Chas E. Cowman, right here on my desk. The book was my father-in-law’s and that, I suppose, makes it even more meaningful to me. It’s a book very well worth searching for. There are newer, edited versions of this daily devotional. I just love the old books best.