This article is an entry in the MAI Devotional Writing Contest. Try your hand at a 400-word devotional to encourage fellow writers worldwide. See contest guidelines and rules.
By Elizabeth Wickham, Spain
I grew up in a ground-floor apartment. Outside my bedroom window was a community almond tree that I considered practically mine. In the spirit of Anne of Green Gables, I even wrote odes to it in springtime.
Our complex had a grumpy old gardener whose favorite pastime was revving up a chainsaw for pruning. I suffered when he would attack the almond tree’s limbs. The view from my window would be infinitely uglier, and I despaired the tree would ever survive the onslaught. But it always did.
When I discovered God the Gardener in John 15:1-2, I imagined a gentler gardener than ours: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
As I grew, however, I learned that God’s pruning was painful. Sometimes God’s work on the branch of my life was more akin to the chainsaw than to some dainty tool I had imagined.
As a university freshman, I learned words needed to be pruned too. I turned in a first assignment reminiscent of my almond-tree odes to our department head, a grumpy old newsman whose favorite pastime was revving up a red pencil for editing. I suffered when he attacked every last limb of my paragraphs. The paper he returned was infinitely ugly, and I despaired I’d ever survive the onslaught at News Reporting I. But somehow I did.
Unlike the gardener I never knew, I interacted daily with our professor and witnessed how much he loved truth, words and students — how deeply he valued us as writers. I began to understand that, like pruning, violent editing was necessary for lasting effect.
Translate this to God’s painstaking work in your life, and you’ll see how much he loves you. Do you love your writing? Yes, you love it enough to see it hacked through. You love it enough to see it blossom on the other side of the red pencil into words people will read and breathe and thrill by. Have you ever thought of God as a lesser editor? His painful life editing will produce the best.
Father, you love me so much that you won’t let me write my own story carelessly. Thank you that you’ve committed to perfect me as a Jesus-follower. Amen.
Elizabeth Wickham still cringes in Madrid, Spain, when city trees are pruned. She’s married to Mr. Incredible, has three super children, and works in communications at Fundación RZ. She used to be involved in larger website ventures, but at this season in life just scribbles occasionally with a little pen.
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Top photo courtesy of Plàcid Pérez Bru, Wikipedia