I have a holly bush in my front yard that is just nearly dead. For a long time, Susan and I have talked about what we could do to improve the curb appeal of our house. There were six holly bushes in front of our house. At one time, there must have been seven, but one died so a previous home owner pulled it out and put a birdbath in its place, leaving a hole in the hedge. We decided that we would remove the two holly bushes that were around the brick column of the front porch. One morning, I borrowed a tow chain and pulled them out of the ground with my truck.
The plan was to just throw both bushes out. However, after pulling them out, I thought, “Hey, why don’t we put one of these bushes where the birdbath is so that there is a full hedge.” The roots were badly damaged but we thought we would try it anyway. I dug a hole and put the bush in making sure that all of the roots were well covered. It’s been a couple of months now and the bush looks terrible. From the street, it looks completely dead, but there is some new growth on it. I think that if we will give it a good pruning, we might save it.
Sometimes, the same thing happens to us. We go through traumatic experiences that seem to rip us apart physically, emotionally and spiritually. While the bush in my yard is dying from the outside in, we tend to wither away starting with the heart.
Fortunately, there is a master gardener. Our God has the ability to give new life to a once dying heart. Jesus said, “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,” John 15:2 (NIV). It may be painful and there may be a lot of pruning that needs to take place. There may be times when the pain seems unbearable but if you allow God to work on your heart and mold you into the person He has called you to be (and in the place where He has planted you) your life will turn out more beautiful than it was before. You will be stronger and more resilient through the work that God does in your life.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)