Often, over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to minister to people who have been undergoing the process of spiritual pruning. To a lesser, or a greater degree, areas of both their lives and ministries have come under the careful viticultural expertise of the Divine Gardener. Questions have flowed from cracked and parched lips: what is God doing to me? Why does it hurt so much? I don’t understand what’s going on! Where is God? Is this God? When will it end?
Now look, it’s a bit embarrassing to be honest, so let’s keep this between just the two of us. Please? I don’t think this last year for me has been a mere pruning. It’s been more a garden clearance! The really embarrassing bit is that when I asked God why, I felt him simply say ‘because you said yes, and therefore you needed it’. Oooch.
Ok, so I’m probably being a bit hard on myself. But there again; maybe not. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, you see the beautiful thing in all of this is simply that I know the gardener. He’s my Father and that’s why I can share this with you. Before the foundation of the world He landscaped my life. He planned the seasons, chose the colours, laid out the borders. And as any gardener will know, producing an award-winning garden (and by the way, every one of us is a ‘Gold Medal Garden’) takes many seasons to accomplish.
He planted the seeds, they were watered, and he was growing them. However, naturally not all of the shoots were bearing fruit, growing in the correct direction, or particularly healthy. I’m afraid that’s just what a life-history like mine has led to; there is plenty to redeem. But, you see, that’s how God gets His Glory. My part was and remains to simply keep saying yes, regardless of not knowing either why, or sometimes not even what God was doing, and remain in Him. Sometimes we can feel that all we have been left with is the knowledge that God is good. And it’s often then that you realise two things.
Firstly; that’s all we need and He is sufficient! Secondly; get a life Ben! In western Christianity I have been so far removed from what true cost is, that maybe it’s time to stop living in self-pity and start living in the reality of what being a true disciple of Jesus really means.
What a powerful combination.