I knew God was leading me to resign.
But I didn’t want to.
I had been leading an area of women’s ministry in my church for years, and I could sense my time serving in that leadership role was coming to an end. This ministry space had been a great place to be planted, to grow, to develop and to nurture and mentor others. Not only had I enjoyed giving direction and vision, but I also had gotten comfortable. This ministry and the people I served with felt like “home.”
It wasn’t too long before the opportunity to lead came to an end. Structural changes at my church resulted in the end of my ministry area and role. Apparently, comfortable is not what God wanted me to be.
God obviously knew about other opportunities and challenges that were coming in my life. He had been prompting me to release the time I was spending pouring into that ministry role because there were other places He wanted me to serve.
He also knew I needed less responsibility in my life because there were hard places and spaces I needed to show up for in the lives of my family members. Had I needed to care for my husband and children in their time of need and also lead in the ministry, I would have done neither well.
Can I just tell you that this happens in my life a lot? I hate being pruned. I don’t like when I’m blooming in an area of my life and I sense God is leading me to let something or someone go.
I much prefer to leave things the way they are. I like being comfortable, but my comfort is not God’s primary concern. He is interested in my growth. He desires to see me bloom, to produce a harvest and to bear fruit in my life. Conforming to the image of Christ means learning to trust that my Father in heaven is constantly looking at the landscape of my life and seeing what areas of my life need to be cut back in order for me to grow.
Over the years, I’ve seen this play out in a variety of ways. I’ve had to leave jobs where I found success, houses where I made memories, and even people I thought I couldn’t live without. Every single time, the “cut” hurt. It wasn’t comfortable. The pruning in my life left me feeling bare, empty and disconnected from the very people or places that brought me life.
But every single time, the letting go of one thing left room for something else.
This is illustrated in our key verse, John 15:2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
Instead of fighting against God’s plan to prune me, I’ve learned letting people go leaves room for new and wonderful connections. I learned that new neighborhoods bring new friends and new traditions. And I’ve learned God plans a much better career path for me than I could plan for myself.
We may not enjoy the pruning process, but God is the great gardener who knows how to get results. Just like pruning a plant keeps the plant healthy and makes room for new growth, God’s pruning in our lives brings health we may not know we need and creates space for adventures we know nothing about.
Unlike plants, people fight back. We are creatures with free will who debate God’s goodness in our lives when He shows up with shears.
Let me encourage you to release your will and submit yourself to God’s pruning work. Whatever you are holding on to, release it. Trust that the Lord, who loves you and planted you on this planet to begin with, only wants you to let go so there is room in your life to experience a more beautiful bloom.
Dear Lord, it’s hard to let go of our plans, dreams, activities, ministries, careers and people. Would You make it clear when it’s Your will for us to submit to Your pruning work in our life? Give us grace and help us be brave enough to let go and allow You to change us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)
What do you sense God wants to prune in your life?
Have you been fighting God regarding the change He wants you to make? What would happen if you believed that God’s pruning and His purposes and plans for your life would result in your growth?