In my last post, I shared how we are more than a pretty blossom when we're planted in Christ our Lord. The blossoms (which represent us) contain the Seed, who is Christ our Lord. The next step required for the seed to bear fruit and for us to live Totally Transplanted lives, we must, as believers, go through seasons of training. In gardening terms, that means pruning.
As trees grow, it needs to be pruned annually. Pruning controls growth, removes dead or diseased parts of the tree, and stimulates buds and blossoms. It also opens up the tree to receive more sunlight. Pruning also increases the size of the fruit because it reduces the amount of buds.
If a tree is not pruned, the branches can become too heavy, droop and break from its own weight or from the winds. This tree, though larger, is not as productive. So bigger is not better. In the gospels, Jesus talked of His Father being the Gardener who prunes the branches (us) attached to the Vine (Jesus).
"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, and I will 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, NIV).
We must remain in Jesus in order to bear fruit. In my early years as a believer, I needed lots of support from Christian friends just like a young tree needs supports to keep it growing straight. But as I grew and became stronger in the Lord, I did not need as much support. The Lord showed me I could stand on my own as my roots had grown deep enough in Him. Being rooted in Christ, I faced more trials on my own with Christ instead of calling for support. Initially I did not respond well to this change in my life. Yet the Lord knew how to orchestrate my life so I had no other choice. He assigned my husband to a six-month detail to another state. The boys and I packed and moved with him during this temporary assignment. I no longer leaned on my support group and experienced life where I knew no one. We went to church regularly, but knowing the six months would pass quickly, I deferred involvement. As I relied more on the Lord, it strengthened my relationship with Christ as I learned to trust in Him and not to always run for support.
As a tree grows stronger and can handle the storms, it can handle the weight of bearing fruit. Christ chose us and we have the responsibility of bearing fruit. Yet to bear fruit, we must be taught, corrected, and disciplined. How many of us like to be disciplined? Scripture says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV).
After the six-month detail ended, I succumbed to depression for three months. On some days, I was so depressed it was all I could do to drive the children to school in my pajamas, and return home. I dressed when school dismissed, ran a few necessary errands, and returned home. No good works could be found in me during this season. I needed pruning—correction and training before I could be ready to bear fruit.
To do good works is to bear fruit, but we can't bear fruit if we don't blossom. And we cannot blossom if we are not properly pruned and trained. We cannot be pruned and trained if we're not planted. It is important to understand we must be planted in good soil. . . that is in Christ our Lord. And being planted in Christ, we must be disciplined.
"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" (Hebrews 12:11, NIV).
During this phase of my life, I allowed my perceptions of the circumstances weigh me down. To suppress the depression, I chased dreams that were not God's plans for my life. As a result, I went through a painful time of discipline. As I failed to get my way, I blamed my husband for our problems. Bitterness grew in my heart, and I became physically ill. (Note: I do not believe all sickness is caused by sin. We live in a sinful, fallen world and sometimes we just get sick.) Diagnosed with bronchitis on the brink of pneumonia, I lied flat on my back for two months and not fully functional for four months. The Lord got my attention. I sought Him and repented as He cut off the sickened, diseased limbs that were not of Him. I felt like all that was left of me was the trunk. All those false beliefs I thought about my husband and others were cut off.
"Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly" (1 Timothy 4:7 NIV).
Therefore, when we allow the Lord prune us removing from our lives the ungodly things; we can live Totally Transplanted lives in training to be godly women. When we're planted in Christ and pruned by the Father, we are more than a pretty blossom.