Hillary brings us this week’s Worship Wednesday about how trusting our Good Good Father helps us embrace healthy discomfort when we are pruned from the vine of the familiar.
Healthy Discomfort: Pruned From the Vine
by Hillary Baggett
A miracle happened – tomatoes recently grew on the plant that was given to me merely months ago. Following a late spring snow, this plant bloomed flowers and then fruit. An achievement or an accident?
These tomatoes were green and as a new tomato farmer, I wondered, “Is it better to have the fruit remain attached on the vine to ripen?”
There was a noticeable cut/tear where that stem meets the stalk.
The best nutrition comes from the actual vine with the full root system, right?
Just like with most produce, I decided to look at the underbelly, listen with a gentle tap, and feel the weight and texture. After a closer look, I noticed a rotten hole in the bottom. Maybe a worm, an animal. The fruit had not changed in size in 2 weeks, a third tomato had started to grow on a different branch, and I wondered if there was more growth to come. To be honest, I was afraid to cut it open because worms in food really gross me out – I had a bad corn-on-the-cob plus a worm experience as an eight-year-old. I digress.
But isn’t this like our faith?
We think we are attached to Jesus, our Vine. We want to wait a while longer, stay safe and close to Him, which is a GOOD place to be. But, what we may not realize is that there is a hole in us from playing it safe. We read the Bible, pray, go to church, and serve. Maybe not in the same day, but all in the Name of ministry, good works, and following God’s will. If we are honest, however, we may see that we have become way too comfortable in this place. There are truly times, where we have to be pruned back, removed from our comfort zone, prepared for harvest, or to make room for more healthy fruit to grow (in allowing others to serve and develop their skills).
In the military world, a PCS (permanent change of station) can often feel like a big spring pruning, being cut down to the base of the plant. Everything I thought I knew—my friends, family, doctors, and hairstylists—was cut away as I am transplanted to a new city, state, or country, sometimes with only 60 days notice. This used to be an adventure.
Then, one day I realized I was just tired. Weary from the adjustments, fatigued from packing/unpacking, arranging furniture, finding new schools, making new friends. A lot of new and a lot of work. No.More.New.
Clinging to the True Vine
I just wanted to shut it all out and stay on the vine – which for me on most days battling depression felt like staying in bed and pulling the covers over my head. This was indeed, as Joyce Meyer calls it, stinking thinking. We are called to serve, live joyously, and abundantly. But we are never promised that life will be easy or without physical or mental challenges. Yes, we are called to rely FULLY on Christ, stay in the Word of God – the true vine and source of strength.
I was not angry or disappointed with myself for not having a harvest of tomatoes – this was my first attempt and I was truly amazed any fruit came. Yet again, I am reminded that God is in control and not me. I can do my best or not do anything at all and yet, the Lord will carry out His will to completion until the day of Christ.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 NIV
Our God Almighty, is patient – in the Bible the term ‘long-suffering’ is used to denote/connote patience – a prolonged kind of suffering. I think I have suffered long enough trying to do life on my own, staying in my comfort zone. Suffering often makes us withdrawal, step back, or run away to avoid the pain. But in faith, suffering can often make us turn back to our Vine, our Master, our Potter.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 NIV
When You’re Prune, Pray
In friendship, it is neither helpful nor healthy to compare our pain to others, to take on other’s pain. Their story is not our story. Let them have their loss, their grief. Just walk with them, sit beside them, and pray.
Never stop praying. When you feel helpless, just pray. When you are hopeless, pray. Open the Bible and just start reading aloud – this has incredible power to change your mind, attitude, and heart. The brain actually processes words differently when spoken and heard rather than simply read in silence.
The Lord calls us to care for our bodies and our minds are part of our bodies. Therefore, we must also care for our thoughts. He knows what we need.
Prayer for Times of Healthy Discomfort
Show us how to care for our bodies and minds as a farmer cares for their crops. Prune away anything that is no longer serving us to draw others closer to you. Teach us that our identity comes from knowing you, our strength comes from spending time with you, and our peace comes from trusting you. You are a good, good Father. Help us to stay close to you, our Vine, but to always be real with ourselves and willing to step or leap out of our comfort zone when you call us. Amen.
Listen to Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin featuring Pat Barrett for encouragement to trust God when you go through healthy discomfort.
How has trusting your Good Good Father helped you embrace healthy discomfort?