To Prune or Not to Prune

Pruning. When the time comes to prune my rosebushes, I get anxious. Let’s first take the phrase, when the time comes. When is that time? When is the perfect time to chop your rosebushes bald? To me, there is no perfect time. All I know is that there are blooms and branches that look awful, and there are blooms and branches that look fairly decent. I mean, if I were to give my rosebushes a grade at this stage, it would be B-. Now, a B- is not that bad of a grade, is it? Wouldn’t you have loved to receive a B- on a final Algebra exam in high school? The fact that I’m even referring to Algebra tells you what grade I received. Look. I know that to have healthy and beautiful A+ roses I must do some cutting. Probably a bit like doing the Algebra homework before the exam. So here I stand at the cabinet in my garage looking for the pruning shears. My anxiety really starts kicking in at this point. The feeling can be likened to the feeling you get when you’re ready to go on stage to perform a song you don’t know very well. I’ve done both; I’ve performed a song I haven’t known very well, and I’ve pruned rose bushes without having a clue how to do it. Both are similarly frightening. Because once you’re out there, you’re doing it. There’s no turning back. Once you get those shears out of the cabinet and walk over to the bush, you’re cutting. You have to. You know you have to, because they don’t look good. They’re suffering in silence and you’re their only hope. So you stand there looking down at your bushes. Then the phrase, “this is going to hurt me more than it is you,” comes to mind. You bend down to get a closer look. The beginning of the process is easy. There are some blooms and branches that obviously must come off. They’re dead. Done. So you chop, chop, chop. Then you stand up. Carefully though, because ouch, your knees are in so much pain you wonder if you’ll ever walk again. You have another look. You see that one of those branches could perhaps remain. I mean, after all, it’s not terrible. It’s one of those B- branches or maybe it’s even an A branch. Now what? You have to decide if that one stays or goes.

I’m glad the Lord doesn’t ever wonder. I’m not sure, but He probably doesn’t have anxiety when He prunes us. He knows which branches have to come off in order to produce a generous crop in us. And it’s painful. The B- branches, when they’re cut off, can produce loneliness, for example, and loneliness is painful. The B- branches, when they’re cut off, can produce fear of the unknown, and fear is painful. We were comfortable with our B- branches. But B- is not A+. And there’s something else. Even the branches that produce beautiful and healthy blooms get cut off! Why? Because you’ll get even more beautiful and healthy blooms. When you have a moment, read something spoken by our Lord, Jesus Christ in John 15:2. I would insert the scripture here, but I want you to go to your Bible (virtual or in-person) and look it up. Read the words on the page.

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Suzanne Sommerville

Life Blogger

Christ-follower, daughter, mom, Mimi to 6 grandchildren, teacher, writer, and musician

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