“Why, God??!!! WHY??” I screamed in the privacy of my own car with tears streaming down my red face. In the parking lot of Sam’s Club, of all places, there I sat. One never knows when a breakdown will occur.
“Why again? Why here? Why now? I try to follow you so closely and honor you and yes, I know I have so much work to do but really??!!!” I lament.
I text Heart Sisters who pray and they jump right to it. I feel those coveted prayers clothed in the love only a Heart Sister can provide.
He gently brings to mind this sweet reminder of who He is:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. – John 15:1-4
If you are an imperfect follower of Jesus, you will bear fruit because it comes from the Holy Spirit. But isn’t it also true that if we don’t tend to that fruit, it becomes sour? A pungent odor, a sour tongue . . . Hallmarks of fruit gone bad.
Suffering will happen. I wish it weren’t true . . . .but it is. It’s hard and it’s ugly and it makes you want to scream “WHY?!” at the top of your lungs in your car in the Sam’s parking lot on a random Wednesday morning.
The answer to that guttural “Why?”
Jesus didn’t say “In this world you might have trouble.” Nope. He said “In this world you will have trouble.”
In full disclosure, if we are to be known by the fruit we produce, well then . . . My fruit has become a bit sour. I’ve not tended my soul the way I should have.
And what does a good gardener who tends his branches do? He prunes.
I remember how much prettier the lilac bush returned after I pruned it back so far last year. The blossoms were more full; more fragrant. The fruit produced was sweet and lovely. The prettiest ever since it was planted eight years prior.
To be honest, I don’t always enjoy being the gardener. I’m certain this might be on a checklist somewhere for being mentally unstable, but I feel like I’m inflicting pain on those bushes whose only offense was to grow a bit wily and out-of-control.
I had grown a bit wily and out-of-control, too.
It was time to be pruned by the most faithful, loving gardener there ever was.
Pruning hurts. Oh my stars, does it hurt. It’s excruciating, really.
But in due time, one day we wake-up, after we’ve cried every tear with a voice hoarse from releasing confused laments, and find that our fruit tastes sweeter. The pungent odor is gone.
Indeed, we are lovelier.
One of my very favorite stories of all-time is the Velveteen Rabbit. In it, a young boy is gravely ill with scarlet fever. Unfortunately, everything had to be burned so as to not spread the disease – and that included his much beloved stuffed bunny.
But that bunny was loved so much by his boy and after it was lit on fire, you know what happened?
It became real.
If you, like me, are in a season of pruning . . . take heart.
Sweeter fruit and your ability to be real will bless someone else some day – the pruning process isn’t ever just for us. We never, ever suffer in vain.
We brace ourselves, allow the branches to be clipped and just hold the heck on for dear life . .
For it’s in the becoming that we become more real.