Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Christmas Pruning

There’s a commercial that has just appeared on T.V. in time for Christmas. A dad drags a nice looking Christmas tree into his living room and sets it up in front of his two kids, who are watching with arms loaded with decorations. They smile as the tree is set straight in its holder. But then the dad reaches for a pruning tool. He proceeds to trim the entire bottom half of the tree, leaving only a foot or so of greenery. The look on the children’s faces turns from joy and anticipation to shock and dismay. The little boy looks like he’s about to burst into tears, but the father does not give any explanation. In fact, he doesn’t even acknowledge the children’s presence. He simply walks away.

Then the scene shifts to Christmas morning. The kids lean over a banister and stare down in wonder. The living room is full of wrapped gifts, piled right up to the edge of that last foot left on the top of the tree. They bound down and dance for joy in front of it.

Sometimes God acts just like that father, and we act just like those children. Sometimes God has to prune things from our lives. It may be painful and seem even cruel. It may leave us in shock and dismay, because God does not always explain Himself.

That’s when having a relationship with God stands us in good stead. When we know the God who is at work in our lives, we will trust Him to do what is right and best for us, even when there is pain and loss involved, even when we are bewildered and in dismay.
Then, one day, we will recognize that we have been showered with gifts – the gifts of faith and forgiveness, of grace and mercy and the most precious gift of all - salvation.

All of us must go through times of pruning. But when we know the child who came to earth so long ago, we know that He has the best plan laid out for us. As He said to the people in the days of Jeremiah – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

We may suffer the pruning, but, by faith, one day we will dance for joy before the Lord.