Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2, NIV).
I shared this verse on Facebook and a friend commented that new growth is so worth it in the long run even if the process is not always fun. Then they commented that they wouldn’t pray for the shears. My first thought was to agree. Who asks God to cut out a piece of them? This is a painful and messy process and not something we want God or anyone to do…it just happens. We see this as a needed, yet unfun part of living and growing.
The more I dwelt on this comment the more I began to disagree with it. I have prayed to God to take the shears to me. I’ve prayed for Him to take lustful thoughts from my heart, and to take away my anger. What mom has not shed a prayer filled tear in the shower after yelling at her kids?
I have prayed these types of prayers so many times and you know what? They are SO therapeutic! These prayers are prayers of desperation and rock bottomless. They are so incredibly real and so emotionally charged. They truly bring you closer to God! So my question for you today is have you ever prayed for a pruning? If you have, what did that look like and what was the outcome? If you have not…why? What is holding you back and how can you start this type of prayer?
Burn Your Ships
In 1514, Cortez came to explore the New World and when he found land he ordered that the ships they came over in be burned. This was done so that all of his 600 men knew that they could not go back.
For King and Country has a beautiful song called Burn the Ships. The chorus says:
“Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye”
I think this is such a powerful and phenomenal image. It truly speaks upon my heart every time I hear this song. There are some situations where you just have to let go and move on. Not only let go, but cut something out of your life. Prune if you will. This can be a person, a place or even a feeling. Many times, this thing, can be or leads us into sinful behavior that distances us from God.
When we distance ourselves from God we may ask for forgiveness but never truly move forward from what we are praying for. I think many times, we ask for God’s forgiveness or guidance for something but then go back and think about it all over again. Then we find ourselves asking for forgiveness again. Just to dwell…well you get the picture. Have you been here?
We have to remember that once we give something to God it is His. We no longer have to dwell on it. We need to ‘dry our tears and wave goodbye’ because we have given it to God and set that ship on fire.
The second stanza of Burn the Ships says:
“Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don’t you look back”
Again, we don’t look back at the things we have given to God. I urge you, that thing that you are struggling with the most today, just lift it up to Him. Your kids, marriage, finances, absolutely anything that puts worry onto your heart and then you walk away without looking back. I know that this sounds hard and it is! Have you ever done gardening? It usually is a very physical job! Philippians 4:6-7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). When we lift up our prayers to Him, He will guard and protect us. That should take this huge weight from your shoulders! We don’t have to look back with worry once we give our problems to God.
Not only do we not look back, we rejoice on the things we have given Him! We ‘dance upon our heartache!’ The only way for us to truly embrace living in this way is to evoke God’s help: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation” (Isiaha 61:10).
So today, tonight in the middle of dinner when your kids are fighting or you are craving a drink or you want to pick up your phone and escape…stop…take a breath and step into a new day, moment and existence by giving it up to God and not looking back.
Become a Phoenix
The myth of the phoenix is that the bird dies and then out of the ashes it is reborn; much like the new growth that springs from cutting away the old dead plant. There is something so beautiful to this image! Our spirit may die but it is only through this death that we can be reborn into something more beautiful.
Where else do we see death becoming life? Jesus! He died in order so that we can eternally live! He is the ultimate phoenix rising from the ashes of the earth and taking our beautifully broken souls with Him. It is through Him that we are saved and it is through Him that we will find peace from the earthly woes we are plagued with.
I want you to be like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a previous pain. I want you to blossom into the most beautiful flowering bush! But we have to give our struggles up to a higher power in order to grow.
There is no problem too big or too small for God to handle. There are parts of you that need to be taken out. Every single one of us has something that eats away at our soul. Perhaps, when you were a little kid you threw a rock, broke a window and never fessed up to it. God wants to prune this out of your soul. Maybe it was the abortion that you got when you were in college, the affair you had last week or the porn you looked at last night. These are dead growths that serve no purpose for your soul. They need to be taken out! In order to move on you have to give them to God and walk away. There can be no turning back. In order to sprout new growth, you have to let your Father prune away that which can not grow. So today, I want to challenge you to not just pray but pray for a pruning! You will be so amazed by how light you feel when the deadness has been scraped away!
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