Tuesday, April 08, 2008

In need of pruning

These are my roses which sit by my (as you can see) grubby window, hardly get watered, yet still seem to flourish regardless. Or at least that's what they looked like a couple of days after I returned from a 10 day long stint in Edinburgh last week. At first they'd looked very sad and wilted so I gave them some water hoping that they would spring back to life as they have done in the past which they kind of did - well as you can see... they became this mixture of dead and living leaves growing from the same branches. It was kinda like the dead leaves were getting in the way, just hanging on even though they were dead and impeding new leaves from sprouting. "in need of pruning" was my first thought...

And then that got me thinking... that's kinda like me. I'm a mixture of living and dead bits I think. There are some parts of my life that are flourishing, where God has been moving and I get excited and feel alive just thinking about them. And then there are other parts... they need to change or just go. I can't grow anymore when there's all these dead leaves getting in the way, just like the plant.

So what are these dead leaves? There are a lot of them and I don't think I could put a name to them all or am even aware of a lot of them. But I think most of them stem from pride and selfishness, and that in turn stems from not fully understanding or always being aware of the fact that God is the centre of the universe not me. In Him all things hold together, everything is sustained by Him, depends on Him and that includes me and everything I do.

I think one of the biggest traps I've been falling into of late is thinking that what I do and how well I do it defines me. I find myself drawing identity and self-worth from this. And those thoughts hinder me. They hinder me cos I think I need to do everything, I start doing things just for the sake of feeling useful or used. Sometimes I start doing too much and man oh man are my motives throroughly messed up!

I've been learning over the last while that this is my identity. Not what I do or how successful it is, though God wants me to do everything as well I can and use what He has given me. This tells me that God doesn't actually need me to do His work at all. He's God after all, creator, sustainer, author and perfector of everything. But out of His grace He chooses to use me, to use any of us. Though we mess things up and don't always do things His way and make mistakes which are often humungous. He still wants to make us a part of His plan! Wow!!!
I read this earlier and noticed this:- God uses the Samaritan women to spread the word about Jesus! I mean, a Samaritan woman! She would have been undesirable in every sense of the word; because she was a woman, because she was a Samaritan, looked down on by Jesus' own countrymen and probably looked down on even by her own people because of her loose morals and messy marital history. Yet Jesus gave her the time of day. And people believed in him "because of her testimony"!
That challenges the way I look at myself and also the way I look at others. Even amongst people who are "marginalised" and my role is to love, it is so easy to take on a patronising self-righteous "I'm helping these people" attitude, not treating them like the equals they are, and I will still find myself drawn to those with decent banter or looks or even with "potential". Yet Jesus sees worth in everyone that we can't always see. He sees people as people, made in God's image.

I'd like to see that too.

P.S Apologies for the length of that! Those were a lot of thoughts building up over the last wee while. And I am spending loooooong hours in uni library right now!

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