Dead Branches – Pruning & Nurturing Series
Since I became a mother in 1997, my time has not been my own. Over the next four years after the birth of my first child, I would have three more children. Four kiddos under 5 – no twins! I was busy, to say the least. I was committed to these children like nothing in my life before. Not a job, not my family, not school, and certainly not myself. Before motherhood, my focus was on getting married and becoming a mom. That dream and desire were granted. I did not consider whether God’s will or not, didn’t bother to ask honestly.
My husband introduced me to The Salvation Army a couple of years before we were married; we attended the corps and raised our children in the church as my mother did and as his mother for him. It wasn’t until 15 years into motherhood that I paused long enough to hear God telling me he has more for me. I remained busy. I started to attend Bible studies and women’s groups and heavily volunteered at my children’s schools. I remained busy. Too busy. Still not seeking God the way I should. As I had expanded my activities to include church, I could feel the tug of God on my heart, mind, and soul. I eventually began to listen and hear what I was being drawn to, as it was; the Holy Spirit was lighting me on fire for the Lord. At first, I didn’t know what to do with that. I was a little taken back. Why me? I knew I didn’t have time to lead any of these groups or devote even more of what little time I gave myself away from the house and the task of raising children. But it grew and grew, and I know now I was not an attentive listener. I didn’t always stop to pray, and if I had an idea, I went with it. I didn’t stop and be still to see if that was from my brain or God.
Well, I quickly realized that my plans weren’t working out! I tried to do the things I thought were a good idea, but they were my ideas. So then began the journey of deciphering my thoughts from God’s guidance. WOW, was this hard. It still is sometimes. In this now ten-year process, yes an entire decade, I was able to start honing in on God’s speaking to me. I continue to work through the process of trying my best to hear God’s leading versus my own doing.
As I learned to be still and quiet and entered a secret place to pray, I was able to see some areas of my life that were just dead branches—not producing any spiritual fruit at all. Beginning to prune those branches was difficult. After staying home for fifteen years to be home with my children and twenty-plus years of “Survivor,” – the television and I became really good friends. That was a tough branch to prune, but I can say now, I really don’t miss it. I like to watch a Cincinnati Reds game, but I no longer schedule my life around the T.V.Guide as I had in the past. Some branches fell off on their own because I simply paid them no attention at all. Other branches took a lot of prayer, faith, and time to allow them to be cut off and taken away- the people ones especially. I love people. I love an underdog. I now have enough of a relationship with Jesus that I can let them go when they produce no fruit and, in fact, start to affect other fruit-bearing branches.
Learning to trust Him took me longer than I would have preferred looking back now. But I guess that was the plan. Who I am today is a result of my journey.
I thank my God for his ultimate and all-knowing wisdom. Learning to trust Him took me longer than I would have preferred looking back now. But I guess that was the plan. Who I am today is a result of my journey. I look forward to continued growth and pruning from God in my life. I can see the good healthy branches get more and more beautiful and glorify God in ways I could not even have imagined. I am so grateful when God uses me, and I get to see things flourish in his wake. I will continue to allow God to be my gardener and trim and prune the stuff I need not bother with and shine light and water the parts of my life that exude the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
written by Cindy Walton, Cincinnati Center Hill Corps, USA East