I happen to like gardening. I can’t pretend that I’ve been very successful with it outside of planting some flowers but there is something about growing your own food that is appealing to me. There are tons of gardening principles that apply to the Christian life. A remember a few years ago I even thought about writing something regarding the similarities between gardening and our Christian walk.
I can’t guarantee that I’ll ever get around to writing all that I had planned on writing regarding gardening and Christianity but the topic of pruning has crossed my mind recently. I’m working fervently on updating not just this website but many of the sites that I operate across the Spreading Light Network. This has been a time consuming process to say the least.
Part of my updating has involved letting some things go. At one point I believe that I was operating 40 or more websites. Not all of these were a part of the Spreading Light Network but nevertheless there were a ton of sites. And I owned the names to probably twice as many as were designed. A lot never got built. But there are some sites that I put considerable time into that I decided to let go. The main reason is that they no longer fit the focus of my online ministry. Or in several cases I’ve been able to combine them into other sites and reorganize things.
My point in all of this is that there will be times that we need to cut things out of our life in order to make room for new and better things. We all have a limited amount of time, space in our house, friends we can keep in contact with, etc. I had to carefully take stock of where I was at, what was working for me, and what could be let go of. In my instance, letting go was literally a lot of work.
Pruning things out of our life shouldn’t be painless. Cutting things out isn’t without its costs. Spending more time with your family could mean getting passed over for a promotion. Devoting yourself to studying the Bible more might mean less time in front of the television. But what we need to remember is that we are pruning, we aren’t cutting down.
When you prune a plant there are typically two reasons. The first is like one might do to a bush. It has grown to a size a shape that you are pleased with and anything more than that is too much, so you cut it back and remove the excessive growth. The other time to prune is to promote more growth. On many kinds of plants there will develop what are sometimes called “sucker” limbs. These are limbs that shoot off from the main trunk but nothing good will come from them. They won’t bear fruit or they won’t leave the bush looking as nice. The bigger issue, aside from just not being productive, is that these sucker branches steal valuable nutrients away from the rest of the plant. But if you cut them off, the plant can spend that much more energy into growing bigger fruit or more flowers.
We all have some sucker branches in our life. They are things that steal away our energy from doing something more productive. And cutting these things out won’t necessarily be easy or painless. But rather than thinking of it as cutting something out, consider it making room for something greater. If you did something relatively simple such as cut out an hour of tv, think of it as an hour that you could spend exercising reading a book, praying, or even catching up on sleep. When you cut something out it means that you have room for something new.
I encourage everyone to take a look at their life and determine what could use pruning. But before you start to cut that out, decide what you want to fill that area with. This will give you motivation as you struggle with the loss of whatever you’re cutting out. Remember, it’s all to strengthen another area of your life and improve it.