Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Being Pruned

(Note- I'm using Lent and Easter Wisdom from Thomas Merton as my Lenten devotional this year. I'll be blogging the journaling prompts most days.)

The Cross is the sign of life. It is the trellis upon which grows the Mystical Vine whose life is infinite joy and whose branches we are. If we want to share the life of that Vine, we must grow on the same trellis and must suffer the same pruning. ~Seasons of Celebration, p. 131

In what way would you consider yourself "a vine that God has pruned"?

I think the biggest "pruning" I've ever gone through is having to let go of my need for the approval of others. As I've said before doing these Lent posts, and at other times on the blog, there have been times in my vocation as a pastor (I really don't like the phrase "my ministry", but that's a subject for another time) that I've felt like I couldn't do anything right and that everyone was upset with me.

That perception wasn't entirely true, of course, more the effect of the fact that people tend to speak up more when they don't like something than when they do, but that's how it felt, and it wasn't fun.

It has been during those times that I've realized that I'm putting my eggs in the wrong basket. People's approval is very fickle. The Bible shows lots of examples of people who are totally dialed in with what God is doing, and it makes everybody upset at them!

As I recall, none of these biblical heroes enjoyed opposition and disapproval from others. Many of them wanted to, and sometimes did, run away. So while Jesus says, "blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matthew 5:11), not too many people feel blessed in that moment. I certainly don't.

That is, of course, assuming that the times when people have been upset with what I'm doing have been because I've really been doing God's will. I'm very hesitant to play the "persecution" card, and that's for God to judge, anyway.

I'm I am, indeed, a "pruned vine" in this respect, then the pruning process is ongoing, and the places where the branches have been cut away are still quite raw and vulnerable. I still like to be liked, and the real test of how I've grown in this respect will be when another season where I feel more disapproval than approval comes.

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