For the past few days, I have been pondering the wonder of my gardenia bush. I must first say that I have a black thumb. If you want a plant to die, just bring it to me. With that said, I have several plants that I have kept barely alive for almost 10 years. They consist of a cactus, 2 peace lilies, and my gardenia bush (up until this year). This spring, for no apparent reason, my gardenia bush seemed to have died. It looked like this first picture.
Now we were busy this spring getting the repairs done on our home from the hurricane last fall, so doctoring this plant was not a priority. Besides, who puts major attention to things that are dead? So, I took care of the plants that were living and repotted them before putting them back on the lanai. And one day, while returning plants to their rightful place, I noticed a single green leaf on the gardenia bush. The next day, I noticed some budding leaves on the trunk. After consultation with someone who has a green thumb, I asked what she thought would happen if I pruned the dead stuff off. She felt confident there would be regrowth, but if not, then I could just throw it away and buy a new one.
So that week I cut off all the dead branches. There were a lot of them. In fact, I cut so much that there were only two stems and they each had one leaf on them. Truthfully it looked ridiculous and hopeless. Two branches, each with one leaf. But this week these two branches have multiple leaves. And the root leaves are budding more and growing out. I must admit, I am a bit surprised by it all and am pleased to say that I truly believe the plant is going to make it! And to think, I almost threw it out and started again.
I wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about when it came to pruning in us and in His church. I serve a church where we are literally down to bare bones. We once were big, fat, and sassy. But then the church began connecting its faith to things other than Jesus, the vine. Yet there was a faithful remnant that hung on. We are like the single branch with one leaf. We may look hopeless, but if we remain connected to the vine there is hope and the possibility of new growth.
But we too need to be personally pruned for spiritual growth to take place in us. Christ wants to cut out all the things that take us away from him. Sometimes for deep spiritual growth to take place, we need to be pruned back to a single branch with only one leaf. We may look hopeless to everyone else, but if we stay connected to the vine, we will be okay and even become fruitful.
Today, consider where you see God pruning. It hurts and looks sad when we carry all that dead weight around with us. So let the pruning happen. Let new life emerge. Let each of us embrace our new beginning, for every day with Jesus is a new beginning. Praise the Lord.