Mr Wu, from Liaoning City in the Shengyang province of China, uses the branches of living elm trees to make chairs. As the ‘chair’ grows, he constantly trims and guides it into shape before the chair is finally harvested. Mr Wu says it takes him about five years to grow a tree chair, from saplings to the finished article.
The kind of patience needed for such long-term craftsmanship is a useful quality in life. As circumstances influence our progress as people, our task is gradually to encourage those developments in our personalities and skills which have potential. We’ll also want to redirect or cut out those which, if allowed to grow, may not make us the kind of people we want to become. While we’re doing this, our roots continue to be the source of our life.
Jesus used the analogy of a vine to describe his relationship with his followers. He and those who accompanied him needed to grow together like vine and branches. A crucial part of the process, though, is the pruning away of what is inhibiting creative growth.
Like Mr Wu’s chairs, we’re alive and growth takes place in many different directions. As it does, we may wish to encourage some developments and restrain others. The result may be temporarily uncomfortable but allowing God to be involved in the growth and in the decisions about what to prune will enable us gradually to take shape in a way that’s both attractive and functional.
Read: I am the vine; you are the branches… 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. (John 15.5,1-2)
Rejoice: in the growth we see in ourselves when we look back on our lives.
Reflect: Are there any developments in me or my lifestyle that God might want to prune lest they distort my true shape?
Remember: inviting God to share my life will create healthy growth even if I make no other changes.
Resolve: to let myself grow into the shape God has in mind for me.