As I was searching and praying about what to post this morning, the Lord brought me to an outline entitled "Cooperate in the Pruning." It seems I've heard and read a lot about pruning lately, so I believe the Lord would have me to dwell on this subject a little more. For the next few posts, we'll discuss "pruning" in more detail. Today, let's talk about the process.
What is pruning? Webster's Dictionary describes it best as "to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth; to cut away what is unwanted." To do this, God uses three main things: people, problems, and pressures.
God uses people to prune us. Often these are people who themselves have not developed the fruit of the Spirit. These people can say and do some of the meanest things, and a lot of times, we have to make a choice whether we will allow those things to cause us to grow bitter or to grow better.
God also uses problems to prune us, and I'm sure many of us could give long lists of some of the experiences we've faced in our Christian walk. Many times the problems are things that are beyond are control, but sometimes they are problems that we bring on ourselves. I'm thinking, even now, of a major battle Jason and I have been fighting for years, and sadly, it's a problem of our own making. Again, will we allow ourselves to be pruned, or will we refuse to be changed and improved?
Lastly, God uses pressures to prune us. The pressure I'm referring to here is in the way we respond to our problems. Anxiety. Stress. Worry. Bring on the chocolate! Yes, there is much to be learned in how we approach our problems. I've heard it said that the key to dealing with difficult circumstances is to respond instead of react. Response is a voluntary action. It is approaching the problem from the standpoint of "Let's see what we have here and what we can do with it?" Reaction is an involuntary action. It says, "Oh no, What are we going to do now? I can't handle this!"
Whatever the means, we know it is necessary to go through the pruning process. Thankfully, the Lord is much better at gardening than I am. He will only cut what needs to be cut to bring about a better person in the end.