A thought on what we’ve lost.
From the outset, you should know that I am no horticulturist. I’m enthusiastic about owning houseplants, but maybe don’t quite have the skill of maintaining them too. This led to a very sad sight while I was away on a holiday; brown, fallen and dry leaves because I hadn’t quite thought through how my plants would get watered. The good news was it wasn’t entirely a lost cause, with a little bit of care I saw the plant bounce back to life. The problem was there was still a lot of dead leaves that needed to be removed.
Let’s be real: we all face seasons in life that feel like we’re being pruned. Sometimes swiftly, sometimes slowly, with each motion we feel our lives being pared back a little. Personally, that’s what 2018 has felt like to me, slowly watching excuses, comforts and habits being systematically removed. I wouldn’t be too surprised if you have gone through something similar at some stage in your life.
As I cut away the dead leaves, I was a little amazed at how much I had to remove, and how little was left. These seasons can feel like this, you’re left bare and vulnerable, with seemingly little left. As the pile of leaves grew and the fullness of my plant decreased, I was met with a clear thought: even if what’s removed seems large, it was still dead and had no other future but death. What remained, however meagre it seemed, was still connected to life.
Do you find yourself today wondering why you have so little, or why you’ve lost so much? I wish I could answer that for you today, just as much as I wish I could answer it for myself, I really do. However, the truth is I just may not know this side of eternity. The good news is the one thing you have left for sure is the opportunity to connect to the source of all life, Jesus. You’re bare, vulnerable and in the safest hands. It’s through Him that we always have the hope and opportunity to change, to grow and to become healthier than ever before. His life in us has and is always far greater than anything else life might throw at us.
It really all comes down to a matter of life and death – only one side still has life left in it.
I recall watching a home makeover reality show, where a group would come in and transform someone’s home as a surprise. In this special episode, the team came in to renovate an elementary school that had been devastated by a flood. The teachers had personally invested so much to create a safe environment, only to have it wiped out completely. The moment these teachers saw the renovated classrooms, the tears began to flow. Amongst the sobbing and amazed gasps, one teacher said: “what we’ve gained since the floods is far greater than what we lost.”
What you’ll gain through your pruning season will be far greater than what you’ve lost. A pile of dead leaves will add nothing to your life, but Christ’s great work through you is enduring.
I pray this is an encouragement to you, that wherever you find yourself right now, you’d feel a hint of hope stretch over your day like a sun rising. Whatever you feel you’ve lost, you have not lost a hope for a better tomorrow, for growth and life.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
(Recommended listening: Seasons by Hillsong Worship)