It pained me to do it.
I had to chop down the rubber tree plant I had on my porch for the last 15 years. I had first bought it as a little houseplant, small enough to be on my desk. But it had grown out of control, and then it got spindly and the leaves were yellow and there was no new growth and it was an embarrassment to the other porch plants.
I felt bad. It had been on my porch for so long. I felt an odd connection to it even though it was just a plant. But one day I knew the time had come and I cut it back almost to the dirt level, leaving just a little bit of trunk. I knew I had to haul the big pot of dirt out to the trash at some point, but I pushed it to the back of the porch until then.
Imagine my surprise when I looked out there the other day and saw new leaves sprouting all over that “dead” trunk. Bright, shiny, excited little leaves.
It needed to be cut back to nothing in order for it to start growing again. And I immediately thought about how God does that in our lives sometimes. Sometimes He shocks us with the severity of His pruning, taking away things that had been in our lives for so long, cutting the familiar but stagnant parts of our life away.
It hurts. And we think we won’t recover. We think life is over. We’re quite sure nothing good can come of the pruning. And then one day, we notice that there is growth. We have survived, and we’re better than we were before the cutting.
The Master Gardener knew what He was doing all along.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2
For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Job 14:7
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17