Life can be hard, and maybe even harsh at times, but in the end, something beautiful and good can emerge from the struggle. Love is like that.
It was an old climbing rose that hadn’t been well cared for.
When I started to do some gardening work on an old farming property, out of the 120 roses, this old girl was the one that grabbed my attention. With the main trunk as thick as my arm, she stretched out for 4 metres until at the very end were some leaves and a few roses.
The next winter I took drastic action. I pruned hard and cut all the wood that was not needed.
Then I grabbed my wire brush and went to work. With dust and bark flying I passed the harsh steel wires over the old calloused bark.
It was done. I had worked for about an hour on this old girl.
I stood back and hoped I had done the right thing.
Two months later a small bud popped out, and leafs started to unfold. I looked further, and others appeared. Excitement led to me grabbing my phone and taking pictures.
I could now truly envision that this old rose would reach its potential of being fully alive with pink roses.
Then I realised God was doing something similar in me. The struggles and pressures I was in, was like I was being scuffed up with a wire brush. Something needed to removed for new life to grow.
That rose now has many many buds and beautiful red roses.
It was harsh, and it was needed.
These last few posts were written in response to a question placed in my survey where the anonymous respondent was struggling to go through long term therapy. They were finding it exhausting.
I sensed that they were like that old rose. Covered in an unwelcomed bark. A protective layer had to be removed. A wire brush was being scraped over their soul. It was painful, brutal, and harsh at times.
There is a certain level of bravery and courage that is needed to go through long term therapy. It is not for cowards, and when you’re going through it, you need to have some assurances.
There is a vinedresser
I am so glad that I have vinedresser of divine nature that knows the mysteries of my soul. They know yours also.
They, the Trinity, know the fullness of your story, even the parts you don’t know, and maybe you don’t need to know either. Having this context of understanding they work it all for good.
When you invite them to garden your soul, there will always be some pruning and cutting. Alongside this will be times of water and nourishment.
We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good Romans 8:28 (The Message)
There is a compelling vision
The compelling vision for me as I pruned that old rose was to see beautiful roses covering those thick old stems. A vision of beauty.
With God, there is a compelling vision for your life.
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 The Message
This is often said without considering the context of what the first readers/ listeners were going through. Hard times, exile, strife. They were being wire brushed.
God has a compelling vision for your soul and will work in all sorts of ways to bring it to fruition.
Fruitful change always starts small then grows
That little bud started to grow with just a few small cells multiplying. Great things happen out of seemingly small imperceptible changes.
Always be looking for them. Get excited when you see them and give thanks.
When I was pastoring people with Mental Illnesses, I used to tell my volunteers to consider this as a millimetre ministry. To look for those little changes, millimetre steps of progress.
That is the way with us. Small changes add up, multiply and grow.
Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.
Next winter I will once again return to that old rose. I won’t have to be so harsh with the wire brush as the tough work has been done already. Perhaps just a light tidy up with a clip here and there.
An idea to help you go through the harsh times of soul care.
- Get a fresh rose after each therapy session. (even you guys could do this)
- Reflect on the fact that beauty comes from pruning.
- Remember fruitful change starts small
You may not be going through therapy, but you know someone who is. Give them a rose and tell them this story.
Quotes to ponder
- Little by little, one travels far J.R.R. Tolkien
- A wound that goes unacknowledged and unwept is a wound that cannot heal. John Eldredge
- And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anaïs Nin
- Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure. Rumi
- My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects Hebrews 12:6
Questions to consider and leave a comment
- Three assurances. Which one speaks to you the most? Could there be a fourth?
- The image of a wire brush passing over your life is not very inviting. In having an awareness of this reality, about ourselves and others, can this lead to more compassion and empathy?
- How do we keep ourselves tuned for small microscopic changes in ourselves and others?
- How does living a life of constant thankfulness empower endurance?
p.s. Here are a couple of other images showing the same bud 78 days later. That small beginning is now 1 metre long and is pencil thickness.