Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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Oh, it was a great time to be traveling out East! I got to be there at cherry blossom time this year. I was where those pink beauties were popping out everywhere we were traveling. One of the gals on the Weather Channel was broadcasting from Washington, DC, and she had this beautiful backdrop of these exploding cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial.
And the Park Ranger there, she interviewed him, and he provided some information that surprised her and actually made me slightly smarter. He said those springtime wonders have a normal life span of about 60 years. But because the Park Service prunes them regularly, they can keep beautifying their world for up to a hundred years. These guys live a long time, these Park Service cherry blossoms. Of course, if I'm a cherry blossom tree, I'm not thinking happy thoughts as someone's chopping off my branches. I'm going, "Hey! This guy's killin' me!" No, silly tree, he's making you more fruitful for a lot longer.
I can almost imagine having a conversation with God like that.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Chopping Cherry Blossoms."
Now there are those painful times when I don't especially like the cuts and the wounds: bad news, bad treatment, bad health, bad finances, bad people, bad feelings. It turns out, though, that they may not really be bad. No, Ron, He's making you more fruitful for a lot longer.
Because God is the Master Horticulturist, and He prunes what He loves. Jesus said so in our word for today from the word of God, in John 15:2 - "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener...Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." So, life's cuts aren't ultimately to hurt me but to make me more valuable to God and to other people than I've ever been before.
It's when life gets harder that I ask those life-changing questions that I would never ask otherwise. I find myself asking God, "Is there something I need to change, Lord?" Somehow my vision improves when I'm hurting. I see things I couldn't see when life was rosy. I need mid-course corrections which are revealed to me by those shock waves of struggle. I need to get my hands off the steering wheel and let God drive again. Sometimes it actually takes a close call or even a crash to show me that. And whatever I have to give hurting people around me, I can tell you this, it grew out of the times when God used suffering to show me how to care.
Maybe realizing God's loving purposes can help me get to that peaceful plateau that Paul reached when he said these words: "I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Calling all cherry blossom trees and people like me. The pruning knife is your friend. The Gardener knows what He's doing. And He knows what you can become.