“So you pruned your roses today?” My husband asked inquisitively.
“Yep.” I replied, proud of my budding gardening skills.
“But, aren’t the flowers the prettiest part? Why cut them off?” Shane questioned.
He is right. The blooms on my pandemic-impulse-purchase rosebush have been stellar lately. So why cut them off?
Tending plants gives us insight into the how the Holy Spirit tends God’s people. Here are 3 reasons pruning keeps both plants and people flourishing.
1. Pruning is essential for health and wholeness.
Flowers don’t last forever, even on a healthy plant. After a bloom reaches its fullness, it begins to wither. Interestingly, the plant will keep channelling nutrients to the decaying flower. The blossom limps along, colors fading and petals weakening, siphoning precious energy into a dead-end. Cutting off the flower head redirects nutrients to fresh growth.
People have dead-ends too, such as:
- Productivity addiction
- Facebook arguments
- Self-sufficiency (trusting self not God)
- Numbing practices (think excessive screen-time)
Some of these aren’t even bad or sinful to start with. A beautiful bloom of intentionality can fade into a decaying dead-end of self-sufficiency, sucking up all our attention and resources.
So the Holy Spirit convicts us. Or our Bible reading reveals a hidden motivation. Or a pandemic rearranges our plans. And thus the pruning begins, for our mental health, wholeness, and holiness.
Romans 8 says “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace (v. 8)… For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (v. 13).”
Pruning, or putting “to death the deeds of the body” redirects our attention. Instead of feeding a dead-end of worry, friendship drama, or body-obsession, we set our efforts into life and peace through the Holy Spirit. We flourish when we are pruned.
2. The Gardener sees what no one else can.
I document my rose’s growth through FB and IG stories. One friend reacted to the pruning with an angry emoji. Pruning is shocking and irrational when those blooms are so pretty. But the camera angle doesn’t show what I am anticipating for this rose: 12 more buds ready to bloom!
In our relationship with God, we rarely see what Jesus is anticipating for our days ahead. Hebrews 12 tells us that “God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (vs. 10b-11)
We get frustrated when convicted about something that feels good, or appears fruitful. But we have no idea there are 12 healthy buds ready to bloom; they just need a greater input of our attention, surrender, and trust. The result will be a harvest of righteousness and peace. (Do you see the reoccurring theme from Romans 8 to Hebrews 12?)
What is on the other side of removing a rogue mindset? We might sleep better at night. Our friendships could be a conduit for joy and encouragement instead a sewer drain for gossip and venting. A day may be transformed from a task to be accomplished to an abundant life to be enjoyed, even with the pain and scars.
3. The scars can be clean or messy.
Every healthy plant has pruning scars. I first tried to prune roses with a pair of blunt scissors. I’d squeeze and wiggle the scissors, sawing and twisting till the cut was made. The results were rough, wobbly wounds that healed slowly, leaving gnarly scars. The process saddened me, and wounded me back. My hands bore scrapes and pokes from thorns because I used on a poor technique.
Eventually, I switched to bonafide rose shears; the cut was clean, the scarring minimal.
How often is this true of our hearts? We do not pay attention to the simple, straightforward rebuke God offers through conviction. We avoid, twist and wriggle through it till the wound is grievous. And we get prickly with Jesus in the process. He bears the scars of our rebellion, but he doesn’t give up on us. He has a plan for us to flourish.
God’s word says “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30) And also, “Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 AMP)
Oh that I would surrender to the clean cut offered through conviction—the first time.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.
Flourishing in our lives as children of God will require pruning at times. Let us not lose heart over the process. I’ll be here, offering you photos of peach-colored roses to cheer you on as you grow.
Check-In Question: how has pruning helped you grow in the last year?