My wife loves gardening – particularly in the spring time.  There is something about clearing away the residue of winter and preparing the ground for young shoots that lifts the spirits.

One thing I have learned from her is that pruning the sumac trees in our back yard really helps.  The trees are more robust and green than the sumac trees on the adjoining golf course because she and I cut away the dead branches in February every year.

This makes me think of the famous passage in John 15:1-8 where Jesus talks about being the true vine while we are the branches whom the Father prunes.

Like my wife, I am sure the Father gains pleasure from pruning the dead things in our lives so that we will be more beautiful as we grow.  That may sound strange, because pruning seems hurtful to us.  But think about it – the dead things are dead!  There is no life in them.

As I reflect on this, I realize I cling to dead things in my own life.  Old – and unhealthy – habits.  I need to see them as dead.  I need to see Jesus as life.

Understanding what is life and what is death is vital in our Christian lives. 

The apostle Paul says in Romans 6:11: “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to Jesus Christ.”  Just before that, he says that we died with Christ on the cross, and we now live with him.  That tells me that I need to see life as it really is, not as I think it is.  By faith, I need to open my eyes to the reality that my past life is dead and my new life is in Christ.

Spiritual sight is so important.  I love the story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6 where the servant is overcome with fear because of the army of Arameans surrounding the city of Dothan.  Elisha asks God to open the eyes of his servant who sees an army of angels ready to protect Elisha and the city.  The angels were invisible to everyone else but they were there.  And the Arameans were thwarted in their efforts to seize Elisha.

When I see life that way, I can begin to welcome the Father’s pruning.  He is showing me what is dead and telling me to choose life in Jesus.


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