In the hands of the Gardener

I’ve taken on a new project/hobby. Awhile back, through one of the kid’s Schoolastic book orders, I ordered a Bonsai kit. Now, I’ve had this kit since last winter, but hadn’t opened it until last week. For those who aren’t really sure exactly what a Bonsai is OR what’s involved with growing one, here’s a short explanation: Bonsai is the art of growing and miniaturization of trees through the use of cultivation techniques such as: shaping, pruning, watering, and repotting in various styles of containers. Bonsai growing originated in China during the Han Dynasty (200 BC), but quickly spread throughout Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The tree is kept to a desired size by the size of the container it is planted in. As the plant grows and new tender branches emerge, they can be pruned back to maintain the look of a completed work, can be allowed to grow naturally or with the use of copper wire, can be tied, holding the new branch at specific angles to create a specific look (after one growing season, the wire is then removed). Changes to the Bonsai are slow and takes many years and careful attention to grow into a mature, living work of art.

Jesus tells us in John 15: 1-6 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.’
Through discipline, God does the same thing with us. Hebrews 12:5-13 tells us; ‘And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.’

He prunes us back when needed and shapes our lives to fit the pattern of His plan so that we will be ready for the work He sets before us. No, it’s not always fun, this shaping and pruning, but I have found that resisting His discipline and direction is usually more painful and He promises that He will never abandon us, nor forsake us. And what better hands to do this delicate work, whose hands more loving, more skilled, then those of our creator?

Whose hands are shaping your life or the lives of your children?

~ V


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