Pruning and Growing: A Call to Abide
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
One of my favorite books is Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. I first read it in college. One of my favorite quotes from it is, “The great secret of abiding in Christ is the deep conviction that we are nothing, and he is everything (pg. 160).” This book speaks of Jesus being the true vine.
Over the last few months, the Lord has been using nature to teach me a lot about abiding. I am not an “outside” person. Going to Shocco Springs every year for Camp of Champions is the most amount of “camping” that I will do. So, the more that I am drawn outside, the more I know it’s not from me, and it has to be from the Lord. One of the best rhythms that gets me outside more is taking my dog for a walk after work.
For a while, these walks were just a task. I needed more steps in my day, and my dog needed to be entertained. My mind would never stop racing . . . What was I going to make for dinner? I really need to text that friend back. I should pack tomorrow’s lunch when I get home, so that I don’t have to think about it in the morning . . . Most of the time I was not focusing on the world around me, but instead, I was trying to stay ten steps ahead. I was burning the candle at both ends.
One day, just as winter was turning into spring, I took my dog for that same old walk after work. It’s a very familiar walk for us, as we’ve lived in the same place for two years. We’ve taken this route thousands of times. I think she could do it without me. That particular day, I decided not to take my ear buds, but to listen to the sounds of my neighborhood. To try and hear from the Lord. To try and abide. I also made it a point to be mindful of any upcoming signs of spring.
That day, I turned down the third street and had to stop. There was a house with a double porch. I had never gone slowly enough by the house to notice both porches. I whispered for the Lord to continue to reveal himself to me. On the next corner, there were yellow daffodils lining the path to someone’s front door. Surely they hadn’t popped up overnight! It was if the Lord was trying to whisper in my ear, “Abide.” When I got home I pulled out my Bible and my journal. I had been reading through John and quickly turned to chapter 15.
When I was first awakened to how much life I was missing for trying to live ten steps ahead, I started beating myself up. How did I let myself get here? I am a counselor, I “know” what to do. Then, the Spirit reminded me of something that my Sunday School teacher, and friend, had said one week.
He said that, as believers, we are either in a season of pruning or growing. His statement led me to allow grace for myself. Maybe the Lord was using that time for pruning, and pruning wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was, instead, a time to allow future growth. This same week another friend texted me, “Growing awareness of our lack of mastery, is not a lack of growth.”
So friend, grab your pruning sheers. A season of growth is ahead, and it will be beautiful.
This staff devotional was written by Pathways counselor Emily Sanderson.