I haven’t written in awhile. And I think it directly correlates to the season I have been in. Though this past season was one of great celebration and new beginnings, it was also one of trials and pruning like I have never experienced before.
“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.” John 15: 1-2 NLT
It’s one thing to say you welcome the pruning and another to actually go through the pruning process. The year of 2018 was just that. A year of pruning. And pruning is not something that feels good.
Why am I sharing this? Well, because, I think that transparency brings the body of Christ together. We are all pieces of the puzzle and we can help one another walk into our destinies by encouraging one another. The Bible says, in 1 Peter 5:9, “Take a decisive stand against him and resist his every attack with strong, vigorous faith. For you know that your believing brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing the same kinds of troubles you endure.” But the thing with this is, people only know that we are going through things if we share it with them. And I believe that if we honestly begin to open up about where we truly are in our walks, that’s when true breakthrough and healing can take place. A couple of my friends and I always say that, “We get hurt in community but we also heal in community.” And God made us to walk in community. Look at the church of Acts. They knew community. And if we are believers, we must begin to understand it at this level as well. If Jesus welcomed community, what makes us think we can live without it?
It’s something I think we often neglect and yet the Bible says: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). And that is what I hope you will find here, encouragement.
This past season of pruning brought out a lot of the messiness that I thought I had dealt with in prior years. But how many of you know, that it is a continual process of the undoing? And I can honestly say that because of the community that surrounds me, wars for me and calls out the gold in me, that I am able to write this today.
Last year, so many things happened within my family that were so exciting and worthy to be celebrated but because of where I was in my own walk with the Lord, I felt forgotten, alone and overlooked. I had warred for so many things that were not coming to pass in my own life and instead of running to the Lord with all of it, I let emotions take over and mistakes were made. But throughout the year, I began to come face to face with some lies I still believed about who I was and who God was to me. As I began to sort through these things, I realized so many things that I still clung to. Much like the Israelites who had been brought out of Egypt for freedom and yet they still clung to parts of their bondage. I found myself clinging to bondage because it was more comfortable to do that than face the truth of what I was realizing would need to change; the ways that I used to think could not be the way I thought any longer. And despite all this MESS, people stood by me, loved me, covered me, fought with and for me.
And it wasn’t until this past weekend, on a road trip with my best friend, that I truly had a revelation of why I felt stuck in that MESSINESS still so many months later. And in talking with her, I realized, I struggle with failure. I mean, I knew I struggled with failing but I did not know the extent to which the fear of failure and the fear of people seeing that failure come out in such an ugly way affected me and halted my life from moving forward fully. It was debilitating. But it’s because I thought I was responsible for whether people were happy with me or not, I thought I was either liked or disliked based off of what I did or didn’t do. But I realize now that what I do and don’t do, are not what define me. Jesus has already defined who I am. I need only rest in him.
One of my favorite songs from Bethel Music is “In Over my Head.” This song has been speaking to me because a line in it says, “whether I sink or whether I swim, it makes no difference when I am beautifully in over my head.” You see, with Jesus, failure helps us to grow, and we can’t mature without failing because we are incapable of getting it all right 100% of the time. But Holy Spirit guides us and prompts us to meet Him in the quiet place and when we do, He brings healing and He defines us. He does this so that we don’t have to let the situations and circumstances surrounding us define us. I am not defined by what is done to me or around me. I am defined by Him who breathed life into me. The One who knit me together. The One who recklessly pursues me. The One who calls my name in the middle of the darkest night. He is so faithful. So kind. And He has enough for each of His children.
In Him, it doesn’t matter whether I sink or swim when I know that no matter what, He holds me. He loves me. And even when I get it wrong, He will love me through it. I need only trust that He is who He says He is and He will do what He said He would. I am thankful for the pruning because I know that though it was painful, I can now let go of the fruitless branches. And more than that, I can produce even more fruit because He has pruned the fruit-bearing branches so that they WILL produce EVEN MORE fruit. So here’s to the seasons of pruning, so that we might be even more fruitful for the Kingdom! ♦
For more by Pastor Bekah Miller, visit her blog.