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Aren’t roses wonderful! So many of them have such a rich, wonderful scent. Their beauty has been recorded over and over by words, photos and famous paintings. And, of course, roses are great to encourage all our beloveds, from senior parents down to sweet grandkids. Famous sayings about roses are popular as well. My favorite is, “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”
I guess my love affair with roses comes honestly. My grandma had the most gorgeous rose gardens at both her houses. When my girls were older and I had more free time, I was able to follow her delightful example a bit with 35 rose bushes at one house and 40 at another.
One intriguing thing I learned with each of my gardens was that they flourished when I pruned them each winter. I still remember the reaction of my sweet hubby the first time we had to “whack back” his favorite Iceberg rosebush. He was convinced it would never grow back, but we decided we needed to follow the rose book’s directions. We gave it a major pruning and guess what? In just a few short months it was bigger and bushier than ever. He never worried about pruning again and, in fact, often cut it back even further than I might have.
All of that pruning experience helped me better understand the words Jesus spoke in John 15:1-5:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
The year my dad’s Parkinson’s Disease progressed and he was put on hospice, I spent almost no time with my roses. They got no pruning and very little trimming through those long months. They were still pretty but there was a decided difference in the amount of blooms and the health of the plants. I could see that, if I continued to ignore them year after year, they’d be looking pretty sad in just a few short years.
The same is true for our spiritual growth. Just as we need God to feed and water us through His Word, prayer and regular fellowship and teaching, we also need Him to prune away bad habits and pesky little sins that love to creep into our hearts and lives. Without that pruning, our spiritual lives will start to fade away.
It’s not easy to stay up with all this when caregiving duties are hot and heavy. But when we tell God we surrender ourselves and our all to Him, He will give us the strength to do so. And while the pruning may seem difficult when we are going through it, when we look back at it, we will see that both our rose bushes and our spiritual lives are more beautiful as a result.