I should know better than to question my father. His perspective always seems to be a lot better than my own.
My father has a “green thumb,” a definite knack for anything that can grow in one’s yard. He is always messing with some sort of shrub, vine or tree. In trying to relate to my dad, one day I decided to dive into his world. I knew that if I inquired more about the plants he tended to and even offered to help, it would be the key to spending some good quality time together.
As I suspected, my dad lit up at the chance to show me a few pointers and said, “You can help me prune the fruit trees.” So, with large knife in hand, I followed him out to the orchard. His first instruction was for me to simply observe, as he would show me how to properly prune the tree. Within just a few minutes, what was once a healthy looking tree full of the first signs of spring was now devoid of any life. Many branches had been completely torn or broken, now lying on the ground to be collected and burned.
One by one, the trees were devastated, my father leaving them in his wake. Finally I decided to speak up, perhaps in defense of the next tree. “Dad,” I started. “Do you even know what you’re doing? These trees look horrible.” I will never forget what he said next. And my dad will never know the depths to which he was really speaking.
“To correctly prune the trees, you have to cut off what seems to be good now,” he answered. “This is not the best season. If I don’t cut these branches off now, the tree will be too full when the fruit should be the best. In fact, the branches will be too heavy and will break themselves. If I simply allow the tree to grow now as it naturally would, I will never get the ripest fruit from the tree when the timing and season is right.”
My father thought he was speaking of things in the physical realm, but my mind and spirit held on tightly to the spiritual analogy he was also speaking of. I let my dad finish, and then I quietly slunk back to my car and cried like I hadn’t cried in a long time. Why? Because I knew I was guilty.
This is completely indicative of my own life. What seems to be something that is OK or even good, God seems to cut away, and I am left wounded in the wake of my heavenly Father. And since I don’t have His perspective, I always wonder if He knows what He is doing with me. Sometimes I even get angry and believe He is just out to hurt me.
But God always knows what He is doing. And He knows the ripest fruit only comes in the perfect season. Sometimes the things that seem good need to be pruned to make room for the things that are best.
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” –Philippians 1:6 (The Message)