The Bible teaches about two types of revelation: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation is basically how God reveals Himself to humanity through nature. The Bible also teaches that we can learn other things from nature. One such example is when Jesus speaks in Matthew about the lesson that can be learned from the fig tree, a lesson which includes the process of growth and the life cycle (see Matthew 24:32).
Now, I don’t claim to have a green thumb, but I do have an affinity for plants. Sometimes this affinity seems to be reciprocated, other times it isn’t. With that being said, I love to prune plants in the Spring and especially thin out and re-pot my Hostas-which are one of my absolute favorites. I also love to purchase seasonal beauties and set them around the garage and patio areas. I have learned the most from my rose bushes, however. Rose bushes are hearty, resilient, and display beautiful shades of color when in bloom. Pruning rose bushes is mandatory though, if they are going to thrive and continue to blossom. I have learned the importance of pruning the blooms as they begin to show signs of withering. An interesting and observable fact is that the activity of pruning does TWO things for the rose bush: it ELIMINATES what is dead and it PROMOTES the health of the plant, allowing NEW GROWTH.
I recently had a potted petunia which was inadvertently left unattended for several days. It did not look like it was going to survive. I decided to apply the pruning principle learned from the rose bushes. With the hope of instilling new life, I watered the soil thoroughly and began removing any dead or unproductive parts of the plant. After several days, my little petunia was restored and began blooming again. I can relate to my petunia and I am so thankful that God not only lets me know when things are not pleasing to Him and need to be dealt with, but He is also faithful to help me through the pruning experience, which is usually not pleasant. And, I praise Him that I too can be restored! Thank goodness for God's economy!
The process of pruning serves as a reminder of a biblical principle. Paul writes to the church in Corinth, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is the initial shedding which is necessary for the new believer, and this process must be continual throughout the life of the believer-intentional and periodical. Just as with the plant, this removal of anything that is unhealthy, unholy, or distracting can be painful, but it is necessary for spiritual LIFE and GROWTH. This pruning is not a one-time deal. In order to grow and be all that God has created us to be, we must be willing to do these spiritual 'self-checks' regularly and get rid of anything that is dead or deadly to our well-being. Sometimes, this pruning calls for a different group of friends or refraining from certain activities. Sometimes, it requires a new focus. All of us are different and require different kinds of pruning, but just like my rose bushes or that sweet little petunia that I almost lost, pruning is absolutely necessary to ensure the survival and spiritual health our Creator desires all of us to have.