Prayer for the day
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.
Scripture for the day
Ask any non-gardener, and he’ll tell you that pruning seems counter-productive. It doesn’t make sense to chop off parts of a healthy plant so that plant will be healthier. Think about doing that to a human! We don’t cut off our arms to make our legs run faster! But that’s the way it works in the plant world. We prune in order to remove parts of the plant that will require energy of that plant and will not benefit us. We take them off so that the plant can concentrate its energy on growing and producing those things we desire, like fruit.
Jesus talks about pruning in relation to the people of God bearing fruit. He says that if we are fruitful, God will prune us so that we will become even more so. He doesn’t go on to clarify exactly how that will happen, but he says it will happen.
Joash was a fruitful king, but Joash learned that fruitfulness is not enough if it does not increase, or at least stay on the same trajectory. Joash was kept on the straight and narrow path by his priest, and when his priest died, Joash wandered far away from the God who had blessed him so strongly. His pruning, the culling of the things that were not helpful in his life, was rejected. He refused to allow God to prune him in the ways God desired, and so he transgressed the law of God, and did not return even when warned.
The idea of pruning seems nonsensical to us partly because it’s not something we desire. When we see success, we want to capitalize, make it happen, keep rolling. God, on the other hand, may want to measure our success differently, and so he may cut off parts that we think were being successful in order to bless us. We have only to trust that the great Gardener knows his business, and to accept what he will do as a blessing.