Pruning – Milo’s makeover
‘Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; … yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!‘ Habakkuk 3:17-18
We are all realigning our lives to adjust to a ‘new normal’. As I started social-distancing and isolation earlier than most, I have, out of necessity and perhaps for diversion, become a bit obsessive about trimming my dog, Milo. I was struggling to find him under his sheep-like coat, not ideal for an adventurous cavapoo puppy I’ve nicknamed ‘Dirt Sponge’.
I have new-found respect for anyone who earns a living manipulating sharp objects. However, the gold medal goes to groomers of reluctant, energetic animals. There is a reason why my puppy is less than enthusiastic about being chased by me with scissors, and a half-crazed look of determination.
It’s spring now as the coronavirus takes hold in temperate climates, where most of the current sufferers are living. What a blessing that we are heading into milder, sunnier and longer days! Yet it’s odd to be in the garden, pottering, seeing trees and plants cautiously begin to bud, and hearing birds sing, only to be reminded by a sudden sad, sinking feeling that we are in very difficult times. It’s interesting that we are in the more sombre season of Lent, when reflection, repentance and self-examination feature heavily in our spiritual lives.
We become one or the other of two opposites when trial strikes. We become the defeated, or we become disciples. The defeated looks at the circumstances, cannot see past them and shrivels to nothing like a thirsty, sun-burnt plant. Conversely, the disciple looks past the circumstances, even beyond his or her self and looks to God. The disciple recognises the opportunity He is offering us to learn from the situation, to grow in resilience. The dead branches will be trimmed away, the diseased leaves gently removed, allowing for a stronger plant to establish itself. As individuals and as a church we can submit to the master gardener to tend to us, to train us to his design for the garden, preparing us for paradise. The disciple trusts that the Creator, who sent His only Son to give life, will breathe afresh into Creation, and into each believer so they bloom and bear fruit again. By the power of his Holy Spirit, God will reach out and steady our steps like the agile deer of Habakkuk as we re-enter our world, in the weeks to come.
Until then, let’s take the strange gift that we have in these days of isolation, to let God prune us. Some of us will only be inconvenienced and feel a bit unnerved. Others will suffer greater consequences. Out of respect for their struggles it seems right to make good use of the opportunity.
Let’s turn to Him more often, with greater sincerity, and delve into His Word with more hunger. And let us rejoice in faith that God has always and will again restore our land and His people! (As for Milo, I hope this time also allows me to get better with the scissors and for him to get better at gardening.)
Laura Simpkins, discipleship coordinator
Habakkuk 3 verses 2 and 17-19
2 Corinthians 1 verse 10
Suggested worship music
Lord, you are well-versed in delivering your people from trouble. We repent from the things we have done to contribute to the brokenness of this world. We praise you for the beauty of the abundance you want us to enjoy.
Lord, we know that you can move the mountains we now face. We ask in expectation that would restore our individual lives, and the stability of our global interdependence with all your children. Will you show us how to be better at loving each other and your Creation? Help us to accept your design with passion. Would you move us to praise you with jubilant hearts for your gifts on Earth and the promise of our eternal salvation in Heaven? We come to you with all that we are to be lovingly pruned and nurtured by your loving hands.
You are our only strength and everlasting hope for our nation and our world. All glory to our risen King, Jesus. Amen