No one knows me better than my mom.
I can see us now—sitting like we always do—her in the cream-colored chair, the one blued over with birds and branches; me on the couch, tucked in between decorative pillows, bare feet on the ottoman edge. Both of us cupping steaming mugs of coffee (either our first or second brew of the day). We just sit and talk, sharing understanding. And I pour out my heart journal-style, feeling full freedom.
I feel safe there.
And, inevitably, when she detects the pride, the control, the sin of the heart festering like gangrene, she pulls the stops and speaks with gentle eyes, loving lips. And because she knows me deep, heart-level, these wounds of love sliver open and heal quick—like paper cuts. There’s pain, but it’s pain with gratefulness, which eases the ache.
The Perfecter of my faith does this, too.
And He’s been pruning me.
He caught me in the kitchen, multitasking at washing dishes and holding a grudge, pounding soapy anger on pots and plates. Scrubber in the hand, I rubbed the grit hard and washed it off hot. The darkness outside and the microwave clock both told me I had a right to be mad. And, to ice that cake, I was planning for a party that would end up being cancelled.
This and all the depth of my heart the Lord has seen. And so He’s been snipping off these useless bits.
He is our perfect Father, our sinless parent. And His punishment—His pruning—is one of the biggest blessings we get. It’s a testament to His love. Even though there’s a sliver (and sometimes more than that) of pain when parts of us are cut away.
One father says of Another:
“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Hebrews calls this a “word of encouragement.” The soul encouragement sparked by the very thought that we are God’s family. And—what we can’t lose sight of, especially in these pruning times—that the end is “a harvest of righteousness and peace.”
It’s like the tree in my backyard that had to be chopped: fungus ran through the top of it and would have destroyed the rest. So midway up the tree it was sliced slant-wise. For a while it stood there, a gaunt stick of a tree pointing up toward heaven. But it grew back—different and curved and beautiful. And without disease.
So there’s joy tucked up in this pain. Joy in the Father’s presence. Joy in the cutting away. Joy in the letting go.
And we praise God for that.