Friday, February 8, 2013
THE ROSE BUSH
Pruning -- Now there’s a subject that comes up often in the Bible. It’s a subject that gardeners all over the world are familiar with. It has at least two obvious purposes: One is to promote fruitfulness. This purpose often changes the entire natural structure of trees and vines and shrubs. The cherry tree comes to my mind here because, as I began to learn about agriculture, I began to notice that cherry trees get pruned to look like butch haircuts as they are grown for their fruit. This configuration apparently helps with harvesting un-bruised cherries, easy to pick with machines. Thankfully, landscape cherry trees are allowed to grow normally and they look quite beautiful that way.
The other purpose that I’m thinking of is beauty. Some things need to be grown naturally to be at their best, but others need a lot of help. Without pruning, many lovely plants would be fairly scary looking and maybe even ugly. Let me tell you about the rose bush.
As a city girl transplanted to a farm, I was totally out of my comfort zone. After the house was remodeled and we could live in it, I began to turn my interest to the yard. A yard was something I had never dealt with before and this one was in great need. So I ordered a set of Time-Life gardening books and set out to make a difference. The first thing I learned was that our yard was pretty much owned by quack grass and gophers. The latter dispelled any hope I had of beautiful bulbs and flowers growing everywhere. And the former kept me busy for hours keeping the landscaped areas clean from it, even with black plastic, Casoron and clean bark every year. So I put my effort into trees and shrubs.
My most heartfelt project, though, was transplanting all of the old rose bushes which were in a “not very pretty place” and making a rose garden near my deck. I dug the holes and readied them for the bushes by dumping a shovel or two full of natural fertilizer in the bottom and filling in again with the dirt that was there and some prepped soil that came in a bag. Then I carefully followed the directions for transplanting the roses and soon I had a beautiful rose garden. I kept it that way by watering, feeding and pruning. I became really good at pruning. It was the greatest success story of my life. :)
But there was one rose bush that I did not gather into the garden. It was a climber that was climbing all over the Yew tree in the front yard. It looked more like a wild blackberry bush than a rose except that it had pink roses all over it. To me it was quite ugly. It was messy and it was “pink.” None of the other bushes were pink and I was very glad about that. Pink doesn’t even come close to being on my list of favorite colors. I mostly just whacked it down every year and left it alone until the next whack-down.
Then, one spring, I took the time to study up a little more on hybrids and realized that what I was seeing was a hybrid gone wild. The root ball was from a pink climber but the graft was a different rose altogether. That explained why this bush had a few “stray” roses in the midst of it.
So, next thing I know, I am down on my knees pruning every sucker shoot growing from the bottom of the ball. I cut off every single one of them and then I began to nurture the growth of the most beautiful yellow rose I had ever seen. Yellow! My favorite color for roses! It was marvelous. It was amazing to see such beauty where ugliness had been.
I may not know much about the cultivation of grape vines, but I sure have come to understand the cultivation of beauty through pruning. God has in mind to make us in the image of Christ. We start out like wild blackberry plants or a bush full of sucker shoots but He keeps working on us to become the hybrid, adopted, grafted on the vine Christian flower that He sees us to be once we have given ourselves to Him through Christ. I had to keep after those sucker shoots. They wanted to come back. But I was ready to cut them off as they tried and I used the same knowledge to keep my other roses from turning back to their wild roots, as well. God is a gracious God and He is a relentless gardener. He will cut here and snip there with His “two edged sword,” and He will use the circumstances of our lives to keep those shoots from growing and to cultivate the fruit and beauty of Christ in our lives.
May we all be open to the pruning of our God and the fine tuning He has in mind for us as we follow Him. May we fight the fight, and run the race in such a way that we grow more like Him everyday. And may we who have knowledge of our tendency to grow sucker shoots take pains to keep them pruned by reading and meditating on God’s Word in our daily walk with Him. And may we praise Him continually for Who He is and how much He loves us, shoots and all.