Jen’s Gem: Place your trust in God and know His plan is perfect.
In contrast to the years-ago hack job, this time, I had to be thoughtful about what I was cutting. I couldn’t just chop away dead branches like a bull in a china shop. I had to think about each cut, or nearly each one, so that I wouldn’t ruin the emerging shape of the bushes.
As you can see, they are still a long way from having a shape that’s recognizable but they are on their way.
It occurred to me that my faith walk is similar to the transformation of my azaleas. At first, old religious rules had to be chopped off. Then, bit by bit, fresh buds and branches appeared as evidence of a new relationship with Jesus emerged. Once in a while, those previous beliefs will pop up and then have to be pruned off so that they too can be replaced with the truth about God and His Son.
I have been MIA these past weeks from writing my blog. Back to school activities and other “life stuff” have taken over a fair amount of my time. Additionally, I could count on one hand the number of hours I’ve slept in the last few weeks. This, along with other challenges, has left me weak both physically and spiritually. I didn’t feel I was in a place to elevate anyone’s day, let alone my own.
However, yesterday’s pruning exercise, which was both exhausting and rewarding, has given me new insights and new motivation that I hope to share with you as we begin to close out another year.
There’s no doubt that change is in the air. Anyone you talk to feels it. Whether it is with their job, their relationships, or their health – it’s unmistakable. As a person who gets bored easily, I like change – well…maybe I just like new things. I like starting new projects and thinking about how to bring them to fruition. I’m a great “idea person”. If you’re stuck on something – call me. It’s likely I can think of a way to help you.
Operative words above? “Help YOU.” Helping myself is a horse of a different color. I’m much better at helping other people. This came to light the other night when I was teaching a class on blogging. I was peppered with questions from the students and answered each one with ease. Whatever their challenge, boom! Here’s what you can do. I left the classroom feeling energized and happy that my knowledge and experience helped them.
Instant answers. I like these, don’t you? Here’s the dilemma with the word “instant” and God. They sort of don’t go together – at least that’s been my experience. Oh sure, I’ve had a great parking spot appear after I’ve asked but that’s a pretty simple thing. Transformation and breakthroughs take a bit longer.
Here’s the other thing I’ve learned. We think we know how to orchestrate our breakthroughs and so we simply tell God how to do His job. Perhaps praying something like this:
“Hi God. I hope you’re having a good day. I’m in a bit of a pickle. You see, I have many financial obligations and my income is not quite going to cover all of them. If only I had more money, I wouldn’t be so stressed out all the time. Maybe I’ll find $100 in the parking lot or someone will just give me money or I’ll win lotto. Any of these would work God. Thanks! TTYL.”
I won’t lie. I’m guilty of searching parking lots for money. Do I find it? Sure! Sometimes a whole dime or penny – not quite enough to pay my rising electric or oil bills, but it brings a smile to my face for a moment as I know God is saying, “I got this.”
Just as I had to thoughtfully orchestrate and plan each cut of my azaleas yesterday, God does the same. He uses various challenges and situations to prune away old habits, old behaviors, and old beliefs so that we can see His promises bloom in our lives. He’s in the business of pruning and transforming His children. There are a k-billion examples of this in the Bible. If you’re interested, read the story of the apostle Paul. Talk about transformation!
I’d like to encourage you to hand over the pruning shears to God this week. Trust that He’ll make just the right cuts. Have faith that the end result will be spectacular. Be thankful that the Master pruner is in charge and loves you more than you can imagine. He’ll be with you through every cut this autumn, and He’ll be with you when you bloom again in the spring.