Pruning and Nurturing
What use is it to prune the dead leaves off a vine if you don't water it?
In the course of the past few weeks I forgot about a plant I moved to our guest bedroom to get more sun. It’s an inch plant and loves the summer. I bring it in each winter where it survives long enough to make it back to the summer to thrive. Throughout the winter and spring I move it around the house so it can get better sunlight in our north facing house shaded by trees that have been around since before I was born. I walked in the back bedroom last week only to realize I had forgotten about my little inch plant. I promptly moved it to the kitchen and pruned all the dead leaves off of it to make way for new growth.
As I was pruning and plucking, I thought heavily about John 15, when Jesus is reminding the disciples that he is the vine and if they (we) don’t remain in him they can’t bear fruit. I also remembered that he said if branches don’t bear fruit they will be cut off. As I was happily plucking along I thought about how much more healthy growth was going to come from this little plant. I thought of the purple leaves with silver stripes that show up so dominantly in the summer sun and how it blossomed out to its fullness last year. Then I walked away telling myself that a certain event in my life that was causing me stress was just it's time to be pruned out.
I came back a few days later and noticed a whole host of more crispy brown leaves! “Something is killing my plant,” I immediately thought wanting to shift the blame to a pest or disease (or my cat). I quickly went through a few options in my head in about .75 seconds before realizing the culprit was me. I hadn’t watered the plant after pruning it. I cut back all the dead leaves but left it parched, unable to produce anymore new life. "What good is it to prune something if you don’t water it?!" I chastised myself. Then the Lord took me right to my soul.
How often do I think about the things that need to go but don’t fill them with soul nourishing water? For as many times as scripture references pruning or cutting back, there are a multitude of verses referencing pure and fresh water. Water that gives life, water that washes anew, water that keeps us from being thirsty ever again.
I often look at the way I spend my time: too much screen time, too many critical thoughts, too little patience, not enough discipline. But I seem to rarely water my soul.
Watering my soul doesn’t look like just spending time reading the bible, although knowing and keeping the word of the Lord in my soul is most important. It can also look like asking God what to do with my time, partnering with him creatively, spending time in nature, or just letting myself be without any pressure of how to be or what to be. Watering my soul looks like going back to the Sabbath rhythms I had in place over 2 years ago. Watering my soul may look like intentional time in prayer or going on a nature walk with God, something I did years ago but lost somewhere along the way. Each of us is unique and we each have a unique relationship with the Lord that is still founded on the same foundation. While working in my garden feels nourishing to me, you may enjoy writing a song or a poem, or cooking a meal from scratch.
Spend some time with the Lord this week in John 15 asking him what needs to be pruned from your life? Then don’t forget to ask him what he wants to nourish you with in return. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
Grace to you on your walk this week.