Yesterday, as I gazed through my window on a sunny autumn day, I was reminded that the yearly stripping process of our fruit trees is in full force, yet again. Leaves of red and gold are falling by the bucket load on the grass below, making a cozy nest that our dog plays in.
Today, the wind blows cold and while I am snug inside, the trees have no such luxury and stand vulnerable to this season and the extremities of winter that are fast approaching. They have nowhere to hide and must face the inevitable storms that will strip them completely bare.
Yet as I peer out again, I receive a fresh revelation… now that most of the leaves are gone, my view is actually clearer! I can see through the stripped branches through to the glorious sky beyond. What the clutter of leaves previously obscured is now revealed – I can see the bigger panorama more clearly!
Once more nature has given me another great example of this vulnerable stripping away process and teaches me about the hidden, eternal things of life. Soon, when the stripping away process has finally finished, our fruit trees will look dead. But we know that is not true and that this season is necessary to enable the next fruiting season to follow. It never ceases to amaze me when I look at those grey sticks in our yard during winter that they will one day bloom again and give us fruit in season when the sun warms the earth.
When I think now about Beth’s stripping, I still grieve and feel overwhelmed by it. But friends, when I contemplate the vulnerable place she found herself in, I stand humbled and amazed at the view that opened up for her and is now opening up for me as I gaze through the bare, stripped places.
Beth was not afraid to BE Vulnerable through the storm. Her ‘branches’ were flexible as the wind pummeled her and her ‘roots’ were deeply grounded in the good soil that nourished her inner spirit. She endured the stripping with such grace and in the footsteps of her beloved Jesus who was not afraid to BE Vulnerable for her.
It is from vulnerability that God brings forth life and beauty. I believe I can hear whispers as He boasts in His beloved Bethany Joy… “ Wow! Look at this one! When all was stripped away, what remained was gorgeous! She is the image of My Son! Doesn’t she look like Him! Can’t you see the family resemblance?”
Here are some ‘spiritual gardening hints’ to help you through a wintry pruning season…
* PLANTING: God says that His children are like great oaks, planted by Him for His glory (Isaiah 61:3). Grow where He has planted you dear one!
* CONNECTING: God also describes us as branches on the Vine in John 15. Staying connected to Jesus, the Vine, with eyes focused on Him is vital through all seasons. His life flows deeply through our veins, even though we may feel cold and dry.
* GROWING: Ephesians 3: 17 gives us the key to keeping strong in our planting. Keep your roots growing down deep into his Word and His love!
* WATERING: Keep up the feeding and watering – a bucket of tears cried with others is highly recommended!
* HARVESTING: Expectantly wait for the promised flowers and fruit – they will come at the perfect time and be more beautiful and satisfying than you can imagine!
A story to build you up:
Have you ever heard of the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor? This man knew what it was like to be stripped bare and yet what a great harvest has come forth from his life! If you get the opportunity, take a look at his example and get a hold of his biography.
Songs to encourage you:
Fall Apart by Josh Wilson
God I Need You Now by Plumb