I am a farm boy and I love planting things. We live in the suburbs, but I have a house with a half-acre lot. We have a decent sized garden, and I have planted blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes, and pear trees. I have also planted dozens of decorative trees, bushes, plants, and flowers. I love planting things!
I am getting ready to attend a Ransomed Heart event called “Become Good Soil.” We received a few assignments to complete before we came, and one of them was to plant a tree. So naturally I was stoked! Permission, no, the requirement that I plant a tree! “Morgan told me I have to buy a tree and plant it,” I told my wife. As you know, God often uses the Holy Spirit in your spouse to break through to you. “Where?” she asked. I won’t go through the whole discussion, but after that conversation I opened myself up to God’s leading and realized that I didn’t need to plant a tree – I needed to cut one down. We have a big yard so I could have easily planted a tree, but any additional trees I would plant would be in the way of our baseball/football/soccer games.
Meanwhile, as anyone who has driven by our house will know, there is a sickly and dying pine tree that obviously needs to be cut down. So, I borrowed a friend’s chainsaw and got to work. I had the help of my two sons (3 and 6) and the neighbor boy who was intrigued by my chainsaw and wheelbarrow. I dug around the base of the tree so that we could cut it off below ground level and remove as many big roots as possible. This preparation was tedious – I wanted to yell ‘Timber’ and be done – but I am learning to take those extra steps first and try to enjoy them. Then I sawed off branches while the boys hauled them away. Then finally the “Timber!” moment. And pretty soon, all that was left was the patch in the yard with no grass. Space!
My yard is a pretty good metaphor for my life. I have been busy for decades. The combination of people pleasing, ambition, varied skill set, and desire to serve God combine to get me involved in everything. But my problem is that I also love everything! I enjoy doing so many things that it’s hard for me to stop any of them. God has been dealing with me about this, and I am coming to the realization that I can’t do any one thing as well as I would like because I’m too busy doing everything. I feel like I am ready to enter a season of pruning, where some of the less fruitful areas of my life will be taken away. I feel that through the loss of this tree God has shown me that even something in life that feels as drastic as cutting down a tree and chopping it up for firewood can lead to something good. It is taking away my fear of the unknown because I know that if God prunes it away then it will make room for something even better.
What things in your life would God really like to prune? Are you afraid to let them go?
Here is our sickly tree:
Spiderman and Luke digging around the base, looking for rolly-polies.
We have lots of plants and trees…we don’t actually need more! (although it’s tempting!)