Monday, September 7, 2009

The Garden

I walked outside this morning to talk to Carl as he was working in the garden. It is a good thing that the plants and flowers are tended to by Carl, because if it was left to me the would all be dead. He was busy pruning back the some of the overgrown plants and trees. I used to think he just went out there with a pair of clippers and started chopping away, but over the years I have learned that there is so much more to it than that. He knows exactly when each type of plant needs to be cut back in order for it to put out new growth. He knows how far back to cut the limbs and branches. He knows to cut out some of the overgrown branches from the bottom, that are stealing vital nutrients from the rest of the tree. He knows there may be bare spots for awhile, but in time they will fill in, full and green.

As I watched him working, it seemed like the garden was a mirror of my life for the last 10 months. My branches were overgrown with many things. A paralyzing fear of cancer, busyness, taking for granted the little things in life, the need to be in control. And all of these overgrown branches were stealing vital nutrients from my spiritual life.

And so the Lord began to prune my branches. But he didn't just start cutting away haphazardly. One by one, in His time, He would cut a branch that was keeping me from growing. Confronting this disease head on helped to minimize my fear and keep it from having a crippling effect on my life. Facing the possibility of a life cut short early, showed me that each and every day is a gift not to be taken for granted. Going through surgery, chemo and radiation has forced me to slow down. And in that slowing down, He has shown me that busyness is not always productive, when it takes away from the important things in life.

I think the biggest area of pruning in my life, has been the need to be in control. He has had to cut many branches from this vine. As a parent, I used to say "there can only be one boss and I'm it." On this journey, the Lord has taught me that only one person can be in control and it must be Him. I have no control over the number of days in my life. I have no control over the rocks or valleys along the journey. It cannot be "all about my will". He has shown me time and again that when I surrender my control and my will, the journey becomes so much easier to travel.

God is still working in the garden of my life. There are bare spots that have been pruned, but in His time, there will be new growth. Because I so often fail Him, there will continue to be branches that will need to be cut back. But with each cut He is pruning out the old to make room for the new. And one day, when I meet Him face to face, the garden will be in full bloom and never fade away.