A few years ago, I had an opportunity to join a community garden. My purpose was to learn about growing my own edibles at home. Joining the community garden would give me access to workshops, learn how to tend to my plot throughout the seasons, treat any pest issues naturally, and keep a healthy garden. It was a tremendous success. During that process, I began setting up my home container garden space. Since I was growing plenty of veggies in the community garden, I decided that my home garden would start with herbs.
I set up the various pots, planted seeds for some items and starter plants for others. I took all the knowledge that I learned and ended up with a gorgeous garden that produced enough herbs for myself and to share. A year passed and I knew that I would need to amend or replace the soil in the pots to restore the nutrients that the plants had fed off of. I prepared the new soil, removed plants, removed some of the old soil, replaced it with new soil, returned the plant to the soil, and pruned it back. Anticipating the plants would experience shock, I was careful to water them frequently and remove anything that died off so that the healthy parts would grow.
Two weeks later, my entire garden was dead. I was absolutely stunned and headed off to the community garden I once belonged to. It was time to talk to the experts. I walked through all of the steps, nods of affirmation assured me that I was doing things correctly. The owner asked me a few clarifying questions. “What type of soil did you use?” , “Where did you get your compost from”…. and I answered satisfactorily until the final question.
Did you prune the top of the plants and the roots?
That would be a big NO. I sure didn’t. I didn’t know that I needed to.
You see in the community garden, at the end of the season, everything goes. You harvest what is left and all the remains of your plants are chopped up and tilled back into your garden bed and new fresh amended soil is added in to restore the soil for planting. In the fall, you start fresh. New seeds and new starters that you had prepared during the end of summer.
I was returning my plants to their original (or bigger) pots, I was transplanting. This is different than pruning the plants that are in the ground around my home, where cutting back the top of the plant encourages new and healthy growth. In transplanting, the gardener must not only trim back the top of the plant but also the roots. Even if you are putting the plant into a larger pot, the roots still need to be pruned.
I started to reflect on things in my own life, where it seemed like the Lord was pruning me for transplant into something new. I realized that indeed the Lord wasn’t just pruning the stuff I could see, and tangibly feel, from my life. He was also working at the roots. He was pruning away the roots that I had allowed to grow into unhealthy soil. Some of this pruning would even send me into shock (just like plants). It was sudden, and I had no time to prepare for it Or, it hurt deeply and I didn’t understand why it had to happen in such a way It may even have been an area I was quite comfortable in but it wasn’t where I was going to flourish.
When I prune back plants, I cut them back to a point where they are often unrecognizable to the average person. Very little of what they once were remains, yet I wait in anticipation because I know that what is coming is far more beautiful or abundant than previously experienced. The Lord knows this about us, too. He knows what the outcome will be, despite the heavy pruning. He knows that He is continuing a good work in you that was started the day your heart turned toward him. Each time He prunes our lives, He does so because it is GOOD FOR US and the outcome will be GOOD FOR OTHERS.
The healthiest plants provide food for the most people.
Being pruned is hard. It is a struggle. It hurts. It is confusing. It is sudden. It can be extreme.
But it is a very good thing, when it is done by a Loving God.