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Dare to be Disciplined

I heard Joyce Meyer say this 20 years ago:

Jesus said if you don’t bear fruit, you’ll be pruned.  And He said if you do bear fruit, you’ll be pruned so you’ll bear more fruit.  So, I figure, you’re pruned if you do and pruned if you don’t – so you may as well let the Lord prune you.

It looks almost cruel.  And I am not even done yet.  Every year in July I have to do it.  I don’t want to do it and I think of every possible excuse.

For two weeks now I have known I needed to cut back the petunias and some of the other annuals.  Each day I’d think: I just can’t right now because they are so beautiful and flowering like crazy.  I will wait until they aren’t flowering so much.

But during this time of the summer, they are in their glory.  They are fruitful, they are going to flower.  They are flowering like crazy and they are going to keep up the pace until suddenly  – they can’t anymore.  Because it is what they do.  It is what they were created to do.  It makes them happy.

petunias in the trash can

But if they don’t get pruned, a month from now they’ll be long and leggy and weak and start to go to seed.  Their leaves will yellow, tired out from the heat and from producing so quickly, so profusely.  They won’t go into the next season healthier and fuller and stronger because they will have spread themselves completely thin just being their beautiful selves.

I finally just have to be courageous and pick up the flower-heavy handfuls of leaves and stems and soft petals and lop them off quickly, no looking back.  Pruning has to happen.  Pruning has to happen I meant to say that twice.

By pruning them now, in the height of their glory, I am actually securing a future for them with more leaves to take in more sunshine, roots that plunge more deeply for the trauma.  I am making sure that a month from now, there will be twice as much flowering, healthier, stronger plants filling my pots.  The fragrance will be deeper and sweeter, rather than barely perceptible from an over-expenditure of energy now.

pruned petunias

The pruning is necessary for the good of the flower.  It isn’t cruel.  It is my love for these spicy, ambrosial, purple petunias (and the others) that causes me to finally take the cutting edge to them.  It is my care and because I know the future for them.  Four weeks from now, 3 maybe, they will not only have recovered, they will be amazing.

I cannot help but see the application.  I have been pruned and I struggle to believe it is not a punishment for doing the very thing I was created to be and to do.  It stinks.  I never like it.  But…It is strengenthing me for what is next.  Dang it feels cruel and unneeded and what the heck – so many things, beautiful offerings, are in the garbage can.  I probably will never like it as it comes around seasonally, again and again in life.

But I caught a glimpse as I threw a handful of my treasured, silly little annuals in the trash today: This is for you, this will make everything better.

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects. Hebrews 12.5-6

Prune away, Lord, prune away.