She used to be puny. Her branches were so thin and weak, they could hardly hold the weight of her flowers. She was pruned wrong in her younger years. Her sprouts were lopped off, all in one chunk. Here in the south, we call it crepe murder.
Finally, after years of tender loving care, I saw she was having a growth spurt. Her branches were thick and heavy. She was standing taller. And she was shedding the rough layer of bark, to reveal a smooth, graceful trunk.
The improper pruning had stopped, allowing her branches to grow, thrive and produce beautiful flowers. An occasional prune here and there provided thinning of the weaker branches, so her main branches could grow stronger and support the fruit she would bear.
Her rough bark peeled off like the outer layer of an onion, to reveal a side of her I had not yet seen. Strong, smooth, graceful. Occasionally a rough patch, but that showed her spunk.
She reminds me a little of myself, this young/old crepe myrtle growing in my yard. The old is peeled away. The new is strong and graceful. Oh, I’m still a little rough around the edges at times. And I know there will be more pruning to come, when it’s time for new growth. When it’s time to get rid of that which is not flourishing, sapping my energy, and stunting my fruitfulness.
Funny thing: She reminds me of Jesus, too. What He has done for us. Because of Him, we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). He peels off layer after layer of our old selves, replacing them with more of Him. But there’s a slower, deeper change that comes with growing in Him and walking with Him. Sometimes this change is imperceptible to the naked eye, because the change is in our hearts.
But what happens in our hearts eventually spills over into everyday life and relationships. Tempers are lost, not in the heat of passion but put aside as the fruit of His Spirit grows in us. Our rough edges, all those old thought patterns and behaviors, are peeled back, revealing a smoothness. We are becoming stronger and more graceful. Like Him. Because of Him. Because of His work in us. It’s a process, one that won’t be complete this side of heaven.
The question is: Will we allow ourselves to be pruned when we need to grow? Will we get rid of old habits and thought patterns, putting off our old selves, putting on new selves that are created in God’s image?
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. Proverbs 4:18 (NASB)
Yes, it’s a process. Like watching the sun rise each new day. We will shine brighter and brighter when we allow the Son to shine in us.
Father, You are the potter, we are Your clay. Mold us and make us into Your image. Peel off the old layers of pride, greed, anger and replace them with Your love. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Grace be with you,