The family and I recently made a huge move. Well, it was to us, anyway. We moved an hour away from where we lived. From the city to the “sticks.” From family to none (save my best friend, who has done an amazing job of being there for us!). The children had to change schools (the oldest is a junior!). The husband and I have kept our jobs (for now), but even that will be changing. Yes, it has been a major life change.
When we first moved in, I noticed the Bradford Pear trees at the house across the street. They had been pruned. To my untrained eye, it looked like they had been chopped back to nothing! There were only short, naked stumps where I’m sure used to be long, graceful limbs. I wondered why on earth anyone would chop off their trees that way. I was convinced that all growth for this year would be hopeless. After all, spring was just around the corner! How on earth could the tree recover so quickly?
As I looked at those trees in the first week or so of living here, I often had the thought that I felt the same way – chopped off. We had spent seven years in our old house (yes, I get the significance of that), building a life for our family. But, this move was God’s plan. He had orchestrated it so perfectly that we couldn’t deny that this was the move He wanted. And as much as I had loved it up here as an escape place, this city girl wasn’t so sure she was ready to adapt to rural living!
A few weeks ago, I decided to talk a walk around my new neighborhood. As I passed the pear trees, I had to look twice. They had new growth. And blooms! It was at that moment that I truly felt at peace with our move. I felt God whispering to my heart that He was doing the same thing to us – cutting us back so we could grow and bloom and thrive in a different direction….in the direction He wanted us to grow.
Because I am a nerd, I googled Bradford Pear Trees, specifically, the pruning of the trees. What I learned surprised me. You see, they aren’t necessarily pruned because there’s anything wrong with their growth. In fact, they’re often pruned because they grow so quickly and exuberantly that the growth overwhelms the trunk. So, it needs to be pruned and shaped to prevent that from happening. According to walterreeves.com, you pick a central limb and allow it to be the tallest, the leader. Then, the other limbs are cut (chopped!) to half the length of the leader. Also, any limbs that grow too close together must be weeded out. Bradford Pears apparently grow straight up when left to their own devices, but a branch that reaches outward is more healthy and the pruning insures that will happen. I can assure you, at first they look pretty pitiful. But, from what I read, they will grow nice and round and fat and be much healthier for the cutting.
So. Yes, we have been chopped. Not because we were going in the wrong direction, but to help us continue going in the right direction. To help us grow more rounded and reaching outward, as well as upward. In my mind, that means that our mission field has changed. We have been moved to where He wants us to reach out to others. Does it hurt? Sure. Of course it does! Does that mean we should’ve stayed where we were just because moving was hard? Well…no, I don’t think so.
I was reminded this morning of one of my favorite quotes by CS Lewis. He wrote, “We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” Yes. That. We knew we must move. We were certain it was best if that’s what God was instructing us to do. But….we were terrified! And, some days we still are. But, I look across the street to those little funny-looking pear trees and I have hope. I’m reminded that this pruning was like everything else in life – only for a season. And I find myself so thankful that God loves me enough to prune me.
So what about you? Are you in a pruning season? Hang onto hope – He did it for a purpose and because He loves you! If you’re not in a pruning season, find someone who is and encourage them. They need it!
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.