Friday, August 10, 2012

Spiritual Pruning

A pastor's wife asked, "When one witnesses a work he ahs poured his life into 'go up in flames' is it the work of Satan or the hand of God?"

I looked where I always look for clues --to the Bible, and I thought of moses' repeated efforts to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go, of Jeremiah's pleas for repentance, of the good king Josiah's reforms, rewarded in the end by his being slain by a pagan king.  I thought of the beloved Son, despised and rejected.  "The world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognize him.  He entered his own realm, and his own would not receive him" (John 1:10-11).

Satan was certainly at work in every case, but he was not the only one at work.  When a man or woman belongs to God (when the branch dwells in the Vine) it is the hand of God at work when the pruning comes, regardless of the second causes.  A life's work --what to us is a perfectly good branch, perhaps the only "important" branch --may be cut off.  The loss seems a terrble thing, a useless waste.  But whose work was it?  This is a question I have had to ask a number of times about work which I had thought of as my vocation, my life's work, apparently thrown on the brushpile.  Was it not work given by God in the first place, then given back to Him day by day?  Jesus said God is the Gardener, the One who takes care of the vines.  The hand of the Gardener holds the knife.  It is His glory that is at stake when the best grapes are produced, so we need not think He has something personal against us, or has left us wholly to the mercy of His enemy Satan.  he is always and forever for us.

So we let go our hold of things we held very dear.  Things that once were counted as gain we now count as loss, and out of what seems emptiness come beauty and richness.  "Those who receive ...God's grace, and his gift of righteousness, live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ"  (Romans 5:17).  The branches "live and reign" through the Vine.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot
I highly recommend this book!  Get it today and finish this wonderful study!

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