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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Three | Tree & Branches


Sometimes the answer to prayer appears to be, “No,” or, “Not now.” Though painful, this is actually a part of the careful pruning that is necessary for our spiritual development, the lopping off of unproductive and unhealthy thoughts, habits and desires.

Through our pain and disappointment, we can find comfort in the knowledge of God’s greater knowledge and plan for us, “...the divine gardener prunes us, killing the lesser life to grow the greater.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus) There is no doubt that this seems difficult, even

impossible, at these times of spiritual growth. “The pruned bush naturally doubts the good intentions of the gardener. But if it lets itself be pruned now, in faith, it will see next year why it was right to trust the gardener...We do not see the perfect plant we will become by His pruning...” (Peter Keeft)

It is through this pruning that we produce a more fruitful harvest of Christian love and spiritual development. In what ways have you been pruned by God? Often, in retrospect, what appeared to be painful setbacks actually served a life-changing catalysts for positive change and spiritual growth. Say a prayer of thanks for this careful tending of your soul by God.

“I am the true grapevine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit...When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples...go and produce lasting fruit...This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:1-8, 16-17)




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Journaling Prompts:

Trees are enduring symbols of renewal and growth. Take a look around you today and notice the trees in your yard or on your path. Really notice them. They are gifts to the earth, and all of us, from God. “Only God can make a tree.” (Joyce Kilmer)

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.” (Matthew 12:33)

Jesus instructed us to love one another. “We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.” (Pablo
Casals)

“A tree is such a rich metaphor in a million beautiful ways. You can consider a tree growing
and...its connectedness to all things above and under the ground.” (Ann Brashares)

What are your fruits? Art? Music? Writing? Poetry? Athleticism? Compassion? Whatever it is, give thanks for it and share it with the world - a palpable expression of joyful Christian love.
“Whatever I do is done out of sheer joy; I drop my fruits like a ripe tree.” (Henry Miller)

“...one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.” (Henri Matisse)
“Art is the tree of life.” (William Blake)


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Tomorrow:  Water & Rain