Sacred Shears




When my husband comes out of the garage armed with clippers and a ladder, I know what’s coming. It’s that time of year again – time to prune the fruit trees. It hardly seems fair to choose winter for pruning. The poor trees are already stripped of everything that gives them worth and warmth. They’re barren and exposed.

With the skill of a surgeon’s hand, he trims each fruit bearing branch. Some, it seems to me – way too far.

I hate pruning. I’m always certain the tree won’t be able to recover from such brutality. And I don’t like the dreariness it brings. There’s nothing pretty about the brittle, stubby, sawed off limbs – nothing useful or lovely.

Pruning reminds me we’re headed into a long period of monotonous waiting. As a cloak of gray replaces the vibrant colors of summer, silence claims the inhospitable branches.

Unlike me, trees have no choice about pruning. They don’t have legs, or a will.

When I see pruning shears approaching I can choose to run away or resist them altogether. Often times I try to negotiate a better plan. I have choices within my prune-able circumstances.

A couple nights ago we were awakened at midnight by a loud scream and a bang when our neighbor’s car crashed into (and on top of) our front porch. The runaway car destroyed all the railings around the porch, chipped the deck and took out four camellia trees. Thankfully no one was hurt.

When I looked out the front door to survey the damages I saw him. There, along with our distraught neighbor, was my Heavenly Gardener. He carried his pruning shears.

Our bruised house and the ugly mess already challenged me. How could I allow him to trim the deeper places? His clippers rested on my self-centered heart. He wanted to clip the spindly branches of pride, judgement and of self protection.

To be pruned would be my choice – a hard choice. I didn’t like what I saw.

The exposure of my own emotions was grayer and colder than my wintery surroundings. My brittle branches were raw and inhospitable. Shame and vulnerability surfaced as he clipped and cut. I was challenged to drop the branches I thought gave me strength and stability. I was being called to embrace humility and grace.

Today I’m still pondering this winter scene. I yearn for signs of new life and fruit. And yet I know he’s a good gardener. His timing is perfect and his severing gentle and purposeful. Winter will pass – spring will surely come – and so will more pruning.

I have his promise, “Jesus is the true vine, and his Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. If I remain in him and he in me, I will bear much fruit; apart from him, I can do nothing.” John 15:1-5




19 replies on “Sacred Shears”

  1. I recently had a similar situation happen to me but it involved a close family member. I can relate to the pruning process about it. The ‘rawness’ you talk about seems to happen when things occur close to home. I didn’t like how I wanted to respond either. I’m very glad God is patient and has a higher view to see things than we do.

  2. You’re right, there’s nothing very appealing to look at in pruned trees. Our heart pruning usually isn’t very pretty either. Thank you for being vulnerable and letting us get a little glimpse of what you were going through in your pruning process. He IS a good gardener. We have to remember that. Hopefully you’ll see luscious fruit from this soon. God bless.

  3. Good post once again Pat. As I was reading the part about the branches looking so vulnerable and stripped I too felt the rawness of the pruning. All who walk with the Lord can relate to that experience. But oh, what beautiful fruit the pruning yields! Strange I waited until tonight to read your post. This morning while I was singing my heart out at church the Lord showed me a picture of my late husband, his parents and all of his siblings (who have all passed away) lined up in a row, hands lifted high to the Lord praising Him! I went through 8 years of pruning while not one of them were believers while they watched my dedicated life and severely persecuted me for it. Because I allowed the pruning every single one of them came to the Lord before passing! God knows what He is doing when He uses His shears. It is always for our good so that we might bear MUCH fruit! So thankful to Him that none of you were hurt! A car on your porch, how crazy is that!!!!

    1. What a beautiful picture of God’s amazing grace, Jeannie. Thank you so much for sharing. My heart swells at the thought of the day we’ll be joining your loved ones and praising our amazing God (and faithful gardener), together. What a celebration that will be. Fruit – glorious fruit, at the feast!

  4. I would like to thank Jeannie Thompson for her comment too. Her story encourages me to keep praying and not give up. I love thinking that the hard times I am in aren’t wasted times in the bigger scheme of things. I need to be reminded of this often.

  5. This post reminds me of a talk I heard by Richard Blackaby. He asked this thought provoking question: do you know how to distinguish between the discipline of the Lord, spiritual warfare, and pruning for fruitfulness? I think there are many times I don’t recognize the Lord’s pruning but blame it on another cause so that I do not have to look inward. This post is humbling me today. Thanks…

    1. I was seriously horrified by my heart responses. I was humbled by his gentle suggestion to drop them. I think the distinction of origin came through the delivery.
      I love Blackaby – how awesome you got to hear him speak.

  6. This is such a good but hard place to be. Pruning is necessary in order to bring in the harvest. Such a great lesson to learn from a real life experience. Thank you for visiting Inking the Heart. Blessings! Love, Rachael

    1. Like you said, “It is not an easy process but it is worth it (speaking of the refiner’s fire). The journey may not be pretty but it will produce something beautiful”. It seems we’re on similar paths :)) Bless you for stopping by, Rachael!

  7. Beautiful words Pat!
    “I was being called to embrace humility and grace.” I’ve been here too, and while the “pruning” was painful and difficult there has always been a harvest of fruit to follow. May God continue to bless you in your writing ministry too 🙂

    1. The best part about blogging is meeting the wonderful people who drop by to join in the conversation. Seriously.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lanette.

  8. I have not been able to read your blog until today and once again God’s timing and your words are spot on! Thank you for the reminder that all things do work together for the good for those who love Him…. Having just gone through a personal time of pruning I am now going to focus in on the new “buds” of faith that are beginning to open up. Your attitude and perspective always amazes me and are used to help bring my focus back to where it should be. So glad to read no one was hurt and your house is fixable.

    1. I always appreciate your feedback, Toni. What might seem like small “buds” of faith to you – look like luscious fruit to me. I appreciate your heart for God and his Word.

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