I was walking along beside a river near our home recently. The water was clear, but flowing strongly after recent rain, reflecting the steely grey-blue sky. The air smelt fresh and clean, with just a faint whiff of rotting leaves, and it struck me how this time of year is very much a time of cleansing and preparing the way for what is to come in the Spring.
I am generally a ‘fair weather gardener’, preferring to work in the warmth and sun, but it is necessary to clear away all the dead heads of faded flowers from last summer’s growth to make everything ready for next year, and as I was working in the garden recently, it was encouraging to see some new shoots around the old plants, and a few bulbs already showing just above the ground. Everything can seem very dead at this time of year but these shoots give signs of promise and a sense of anticipation.
John was describing this sense of anticipation in today’s verse. Jesus was coming to do away with all the deadness of the Law, which had become ‘relationship through habit’, (not the Law itself), and to bring the newness of the Holy Spirit. John was speaking of the cleansing power of the Word-become-flesh and how Jesus would challenge His people to cut out the dead leaves and branches in their lives.
As we allow the “sap” of the Holy Spirit to arise in our lives, He shows us the different dead parts inside us that are displeasing to God and which need cutting out. Sometimes we choose to ignore that still, small voice, but if we are to ‘grow into healthy plants’ the dead bits need to be pruned. Pruning can sometimes be painful and we may struggle against it, but eventually, if we allow Him, the Lord will produce a fruitful plant, one that is fully pleasing to Him. God has known us since before the beginning of time, He knows how He planned us to be and He will achieve His purpose as we yield to Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Please forgive me that I am so reluctant to listen to Your still, small voice, gently telling me the things You want to change in me. Please give me the courage to surrender myself completely and allow You to have Your way. In the precious name of Jesus I ask it, Amen.
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