Pruning the Tree We Cut Down

Thoughts Along the Way©

Elaine Mehn

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

Almost two years ago, we had the large tree in our front yard cut down because it was causing problems with the electric wires and was keeping any sun from getting to the front of the house. The stump that was left is about 2 feet tall and hidden behind a bush so you can’t even see it.

The following year it sent out branches and shoots. The tree is now half way to the wires. Yesterday John thinned the branches to give it a better shape, cut it shorter, and cut off the suckers coming from the bottom. It seems strange to need to prune a tree that was cut down two year previous. But strange or not, it must be prune again. Sometimes to get rid of something you have to be alert and persistent.

Over the years of following Jesus I have had times of repentance when I felt that a particular sin had been cut down and I would never have to deal with it again. To my surprise, it wasn’t long before there were shoots and branches of that same sin returning. Ignoring them just lets them grow wild and ugly. I have found I must continue to come to Christ in repentance, to turn from the sin, and in faith to again accept His forgiveness and acceptance. This feels like having branches cut off because it is.

The tree in our yard grows amazingly fast and with incredible determination. My sins do likewise. They grow in my heart and eventually get so big they cause problems not just for me but for those around me as well. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power, I need to be just as determined to cut the sin from my life even if it happens to be a sin that I am rather fond of.

Pruning a tree is work but the end result is worth the effort. Letting God prune sin out of my heart feels like death in that some of my favorite parts are being cut off but it also is well worth the effort. As God prunes my heart, He always leaves behind His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This gives me the courage to continue to come to Him in repentance, faith, and obedience for the joy that is set before me.

As Psalm 139 reminds me to let God search my heart and show me what needs to be removed through pruning and lead me on in His love, I wonder what is my part and what is God’s part? My part is to let God do the searching and then respond in repentance and faith as God does His part of pruning. Even when I am aware of the sin in my heart, I am unable to remove it. I desperately need God to cut away the sin. With each cut God reminds me that Jesus died and rose again that I can have the joy found in a clean heart. He also promises to leave behind His fruit to grow in my life.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for the times that I have thought that any growth even if it is in the wrong direction is OK. Make my heart tender to Your leading and sorrowful over those things that bring You sorrow. Prune the branches that keep me from reflecting Christ’s beauty.

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