Friday, April 1, 2011

The Gardener of My Soul

It was the spring of 2004 and I was sitting in a class at a Womens Conference.  A small sheet of paper and a pen were passed out to each person in the room with the instructions to write something we were struggling with on this paper.  I am not sure how much of the class I actually heard because I spent the entire time racking my brains for just one thing I could write on that paper.  Financially we were doing great and our family had good health.  I had a husband that adored me and made me feel like a queen and children who were good and kind to each other (for the most part).  I had great friends and neighbors; there was not one person I could think of that I was angry at or unhappy with.  My paper stayed blank.  Apparently God noticed my blank paper and decided that it was high time I had something to write!

It was just a few months before this Womens Conference I attended that my family moved into a new home.  On our property there were many mature trees including three cherry trees.  Our first spring came and the trees brought forth their fruit but we encountered two problems; the trees were so tall we could not reach most of the fruit and the fruit did not taste good. 

I came to understand later, that our trees had not been maintained and had overgrown.  The trees did provide shade and they were pretty to look at but they were useless to us because they did not provide edible fruit.  In other words, the trees did not reach the potential for which they were intended.  All of this could have been prevented if only they had been properly cared for and pruned before they had grown out of control. 

John 15:1-2 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring froth more fruit.

In this scripture the Greek word for purge is katharos[i] which means to cleanse or to prune. Pruning involves not only the removal of dead or diseased branches (non-fruit bearing branches taken away) but it also entails control of growth for productivity (fruit-bearing branches are pruned to bring forth more fruit).  In order to understand this part of pruning, we need to understand how plants grow. 
  1. Lateral buds:  The growth of lateral buds ensures that leaves elevate into the sunlight and that roots penetrate deeply into the soil.  Once the tree or plant has reached sufficient height and length (of both roots and stems), this bud enables lateral (sideways) growth.
  1. Terminal bud (apex):  The apex is the top bud.  It produces a hormone called auxin that circulates downward which causes the tree to increase in height regardless if sufficient height has been reached.  This inhibits lateral (or sideways) growth.  Apical dominance occurs when the terminal bud or apex is not removed.  This causes several problems; the fruit becomes out of reach at the tops of the tree and becomes more vulnerable to damage by birds and pests, the angles at which the branches grow from the main limb are larger and are more prone to breaking off with the weight of the fruit, and a large crop of worthless fruit or trees that produce fruit only every other year can result.  By removing the apex, the auxin is suppressed and strong lateral branches can grow. [ii]

For several years the Lord allowed me to grow taller, but it got to the point that my lateral growth was lacking.  The pruning process is painful and it takes a while for the branches to fill in; there have been times I have felt completely stripped.  The Lord however is the gardener of my soul; he knows just what branches need to be taken and which branches need to be purged in order for me to reach my potential. 

The Gardener of My Soul
Brenda Hebert © 2009

In his garden, planted safely there
He watches over me with loving care
He nourishes my soul with words of peace
He digs about, ensuring thirst will cease

My upward growth, to direct and guide
A stake he places right there at my side
And when the whipping winds do threaten me
It holds me up, protects, provides security

Oh then, the gardener of my soul to you I now ask why
The pain I feel today seems more than I can bear
My branches being torn away, just as I start to grow
Where have you gone?  Where is your tender care?

More mature and taller, I have grown
Branches filling out, leaves of my own
No longer just a seedling but a tree
Now lush and green, developing beauty

On my limbs I now start to see
Growing buds, where one day fruit will be
Blossoms grow and flowering imparts
Colors bright splendor warms the heart

Oh then, the gardener of my soul again I ask you why
The pain I feel today seems more than I can bear
More branches being torn way, just when I’m filling out
Where have you gone? Where is your tender care?

A stake once held me so that I could grow
Now a strong trunk and roots way down below
Sturdy branches yielding fruit so sweet
Low enough that all may come and eat

But more than physically I have increased
For wisdom, understanding now brings peace
Alone I would have grown out of control
But with you my potential I now know.

So then, the gardener of my soul no longer ask I why
The pain I feel today I now can bear
That branches you have torn away, were dead, diseased, untamed
You never left, but pruned me with great care.

[i] Katharos. In King James Bible Strong’s Greek Dictionary. Retrieved November 9, 2009, from
[ii] Wade, G.L. Westerfield, R.R. (1999, April). Basic Principles of Pruning Woody Plant.  Retrieved November 27, 2009 from

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You're amazing. I love the analogy you use here. Yay for a little pruning--or a whole lot--now and then. Painful yes, but the eventual outcome is so great. Thank goodness there's someone who knows what we need so much more than we do.