I don’t know about you, but there are times in my life when I feel like God is pruning and pruning and pruning, and I begin to wonder how far He will go. My response is He will go as far as needed to make sure I submit to Him and bear fruit. I was not in a good place five years ago. My husband and I had been going through a reformation in our lives. We were a few years into it and I really started to struggle.
Prior to the start of this reformation, my husband was a deacon in our church. He and I were involved in almost every aspect of our church. We taught Bible studies, VBS, children’s classes, adult Sunday school classes, in addition to many other things that would make our ministry resume quite impressive. The problem was that we were not saved. We had never been taught repentance and turning away from our sins. Our hearts were not regenerated until late 2006. We moved to Washington state in 2008 and a reformation of our whole way of life began in 2009. My son was born in July 2011 and by spring of 2012, I was having several medical issues along with several spiritual issues.
Thinking I knew best, I became more judgmental of people. I felt because of what God had done in our lives, I was somehow more holy than others. I was harder on my children because I expected them to do what I said because I knew best. I was a glutton, self-centered, and one who gave in to escapism. I was hard on myself when I messed up and tried to atone for my own sins. I made mistakes in friendships and ended up pushing people away. I martyred myself (figuratively), making myself seem more holy.
As each trial started coming up, whether it be friends, my kids, my marriage, or my health, I just kept feeling like I could not handle any more. But it seemed like God kept allowing more and more to happen to our family. I still was trying to be in control and handle everything on my own. One day I could handle it no longer and cried out for Christ’s strength. The hardest part in all of this was that I was embarrassed to share my sins and issues because I didn’t want to look bad in front of people.
God had to humble me, and I learned quickly that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about His Word. About three or four years ago, I started calling two of my mentors on a weekly basis to start talking through the issues I had. About three years ago, I asked one of those mentors (Andrea Schwartz) if she would go through The Institutes of Biblical Law with me so I could finally understand some of this “theology” stuff my husband is always talking about. I mentioned this to several friends. They wanted to study Institutes as well, and a Bible study was formed. It is through this study that I have been humbled, had a deep pruning, and have learned a lot about our Lord.
I think there might be a time in every Christian’s life when it feels like God is just cutting, cutting, and cutting more. We wonder if there will ever be anything left. I have wondered if fruit can grow from what seems like a stubby tree. I had to whole-heartily embrace Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In those dark, painful days, it was hard to see how this was for my good, but I had to speak His truth even though I did not feel it.
Over time, others started seeing fruit in me and I started seeing a bit as well. But I have also noticed that God doesn’t just prune you once and you are good. There has to be continual pruning throughout your life. It may not happen every year, but things start creeping back in, or you get lazy in one area and here comes a little more pruning to refine and make sure that tree produces a little more fruit.
Pruning is not fun. It is hard, and it is humbling. I still have areas where I struggle. I still have relationships that I have ruined and may never get back. I may forever on this side of glory have health problems, but these things cannot become the focus of my life. Christ Jesus is, and I need to make sure I am allowing Him to prune those things that are not glorifying to Him and ask His forgiveness and repent in those areas that are sin.