It’s pruning time in North Carolina. Northerners by birth and in heart, we are in unfamiliar land. On their daily stroll, our neighbors kindly remark, ‘You need to prune that’ pointing to the crepe myrtle in our front yard. Yes, we know. All around the neighborhood, pruning and shaping is taking place.
So we read and watch YouTube videos to gain semi-confidence. Gloved and armed with pruners (short and long), we approach the victim. Vase shape is the goal without cutting off too much. Will this lovely tree ever bloom again? Only time will tell, but we hope our neighbors notice and applaud our effort.
Many years and dozens of cookies ago, my physical shape resembled a banana but now I identify more with a Bartlett pear. A recent church message encouraged me to consider my spiritual SHAPE as defined in Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren. I can best serve God when I am operating and serving within my SHAPE.
S– Spiritual Gifts H– Heart A– Abilities P– Personality E– Experiences.
What is my shape? How can I best serve God based on my shape? As my physical shape changes so does my spiritual shape. Thirty years ago, my shape was a stay-at-home mom of two little blessings. Later, called to serve and lead ministries, a different shape took form. In each season of life, God drew out my gifts, passions, abilities, personality traits, and life experiences. Some previously unused, now emerged. Some faded to the background, some blossomed; all by His Hands and at His timing.
In the Bible, I read about Joshua’s shaping that began under the whip of an Egyptian taskmaster. God continued to prune and reshape Joshua from the bloody doorposts on the first Passover, through the dry Red Sea, and into the Promised Land as a spy. Joshua stood firm before the nation and gave his surveillance report. He spoke truth with confidence because of his shape.
Wandering in the desert for 40 years, God continued reshaping Joshua. He would be the one, not Moses, to lead the Israelites and conquer the Promised Land. As he followed and obeyed, the Master Gardener shaped. God equipped Joshua for what he needed, as he needed it. As Joshua was faithful, God was abundantly more faithful. Joshua’s shape changed as God moved him through his life seasons until calling him home at the age of 110.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Looking at the bare branches of our vase-shaped crepe myrtle, we have faith the beautiful blossoms will cover the tree this summer. The flowers will serve as proof that the cutting, pruning, and shaping were necessary.
As God continues to shape me so I can best serve Him, I endure His pruning. In time, blossoms of the Spirit’s Fruit will emerge; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A wonderful shape for this pear tree.