In his book, “Necessary Endings”, Henry Cloud uses the analogy of a rose bush to illustrate how we have to tend to our lives if we are to see them blossom into their full potential. He says that a rose bush produces more buds than the plant is capable of supporting, so in order to achieve maximum beauty, a gardener must cut out the dead branches, prune away the sick and care for the healthiest branches. There is great spiritual truth in this as well. In order for us to become the person God created us to be, we must prune our lives in much the same way as the gardener does the rose bush.
There are areas in each of our lives of which we simply must let go; they are dead and just taking up space while choking the life out of us. Some of us hold on to relationships that have long since run their course, or continue to engage in activities that serve no kingdom purpose. As long as we allow these areas to persist in our lives, we will not have the capacity to nurture the positive, Christ-centered callings in our life. If we are to follow Jesus, we must rid ourselves of the dead weight we have been carrying around for years. Guilt, shame, and regret are not living things, yet we tend to them as if they were. Fortunately, Jesus has offered to take all of these from us (Matthew 11:28), and relieve us of the burden. Before we can run towards God, we must lighten our load or we will constantly fall behind.
Many times we become involved in ministries or relationships that seem like a good idea at the time, but ultimately prove to be poisoning our souls. Perhaps your church has strayed from Biblical truths or your small group has become little more than a gossip club. Mentors that once spoke truth into your life but later disappointed you, or even family relationships that always bring you down, these are sicknesses that if allowed to persist will infect your life and wilt your resolve to serve Jesus. As painful as it may be, there comes a time when you must let go of the people and activities that no matter how much you care for them, are simply not going to get better. At some point we must come to the realization that these branches are not going to respond to treatment and must be cut away. As long as we allow the disease to linger, we will not be able to experience all the life Christ intends for us.
I have a tendency to try and engage in too many things at once, and to take on more than I can possibly sustain. Even the good intentions of life can hinder our potential because we spread ourselves too thin and therefore are incapable of giving the proper care and feeding to all of our endeavors. If you are like me and simply have too many “buds” you are trying to feed, we must prune some away to allow the biggest and most promising blossoms to soak up all that they can in order to display their beauty to the world. It’s great that we have the desire to do many things for the Lord, but until we strip away the unnecessary and focus on those things for which He has created us to do, we will never reach our full potential.
As a gardener prunes a rose bush, so too must we carefully tend to our own lives. Get rid of the dead things in your life that are crowding out the potential beauty. Cut away the poisonous people and situations that are withering the healthy parts. Focus on those areas that God has specifically gifted you to accomplish through your unique passions and talents. By ending those things which do not serve God’s purposes, we allow ourselves to beautifully bloom for His glory.