Not many weeks back, an Unconventional post showed a couple of coastal redwoods leaning on each other—here comes another scene from that walk. A small stream crossed under a bridge on the trail, and then disappeared. Looking closer, I discovered it hadn’t gone underground--it re-emerged not far below. Instead, the moderate climate and abundance of rainfall in the Santa Cruz mountains led to the streamside bushes to grow over and completely cover the stream, for maybe 25 feet. Trust me, a stream IS below the brush!
Not a huge issue, unless you tried to stroll over what looked like solid ground, only to have it collapse, dropping you into the cool stream just below. Yet it gives us a nice example of how our lives sometimes get overgrown with business and distractions. We need cutting back, to eliminate anything that keeps us from spiritual effectiveness. Jesus warned us, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2, NLT).
Parts of our lives that show no spiritual growth need full elimination, and even the areas that do grow need pruning to do better. This convicts me, and I had to spend some time with God and do some pruning. I spoke last Saturday morning at a local church, on some limits we need to remove so we can “explode into space,” to steal a line from “Born to be Wild.” Think prayerfully about which of these limits might be keeping you from being more effective spiritually.
Our own weaknesses and sins that we allow, and don’t work on.
Tradition—peer pressure from dead guys!
Unbiblical expectations from ourselves and others—issues that the Holy Spirit didn’t consider important enough.
Laziness—not caring enough to make the effort to grow.
Ambition not one for God, but self that distracts us from him.
Peer pressure, caring more about pleasing people than pleasing God.
Being content with things are good, when God has something better in store for us.
These limits, and more, clutter our lives and distract us, but they provide a place to begin our examination. The key—do we want God’s best? I suspect you all do, which is why you’re reading this. And maybe some pruning will keep us from plunging into a cool stream!
Kick Starting the Application
Pick out just 1 or 2 of the limits listed above, ones that most restrict your spiritual life. What problems do they bring to you? Why have you allowed them to remain? And what 2 practical steps can you take this week to begin that pruning process?