Friday, November 14, 2008

Being Laid Bare

It won't be long before the beautiful trees of these mountains are laid bare. To prepare the trees for new life, leaves once vibrant with color will fall away, decomposing on the ground to feed the soil their rich nutrients. Old things must die so that new things might be birthed. It's the cycle of life, "the old has gone, the new has come." In order for the new life to be awakened in us, the old life must be removed.

For years old things have held me captive. I have been stuck in the old way of thinking. Who I believed I was, who I believed God was and what I believed was expected of me, have all played a part in my captivity. Growing up in the church I was trained to consider all the things that a good soldier of the Lord was required to do and be. Life was about what I could and should do. "Should" drains the life out of living? Living in the "shoulds" of Christianity kills the heart of the relationship.

He came that we might have life and have it to the full. Was it really up to me to find that life? Or was it He that brought it to me? Was it my life lived out in attempts to please Him or was it His life lived out of me in my bankruptcy? Was it I who loved Him first or He who loved me first?

Papa God got out His pruning shears and one by one began to snip away the false beliefs I held about Him, and myself. What was it that He truly wanted from me? Who was I to Him? All He ever wanted with me was what I wanted with Him; love, true love.

He created me to love me. He wanted me to respond to that love. He wanted me to see what He saw in me. He wanted me to know His true heart. He wanted to be my strength and live His life through me. He would not rest until I saw what He saw.

About the same time in my life, my husband decided to cut back a shrub in our front yard. By the time he had finished, all that was left was a stump of empty branches. I thought surely he must have killed it. There was nothing left but the foundation of the plant. Was it possible it would ever again be filled with vibrant new life?

That shrub became a connection to my inner being. I felt as if limbs were being amputated. So much had to be clipped away to get to the foundation of my thinking. At times I didn't know who I was anymore. I felt like that shrub. Was there going to be anything left inside me when it was all over? I felt so dead and empty, were there any signs of life?

Week after week I watched that empty shrub for signs of life. It felt as if somehow we were enter twined. Maybe if new life sprang forth on it, I would see it in myself. I watched to see if it would survive the drastic pruning and live.

One day it finally happened. A tiny shoot of green burst out of one of the stubby branches. Tears streamed down my face as I saw it. It was a visual promise to me. Though I felt dead, life still invaded my body waiting to burst out. The seed of life indwelt me. Though I felt dead, I was still alive.

The Gardener prunes away all that is dead to make room for new life to emerge. It's nothing to fear. It's the way it was meant to be. Being laid bare is the preparation for new life. Pruning is the promise of a new beginning. A beginning of life as it was always meant to be.

It's out of love that the Gardener prunes us. He wants the light of His life to permeate our souls. Christ crucified bought us a new beginning, a new life. The slate is wiped clean, the old has gone, the new has come. The work has already been done, we now need to see it to live in it.

Being laid bare gives us the chance to have our perspective changed to see what He sees; who we were always meant to be. We are given the chance of a lifetime, fresh, beautiful, abundant new life. We can now be to be who we were always meant to be, as our eyes are opened we will see. It is then we become who He has always known us to be, His chosen and dearly loved.

The winds will come, the leaves will fall, trees will be laid bare to prepare for the promise of new life. As it is with the trees, so it is with us. For this is our promise. Pruning last but for a moment, but new life lasts a forever.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Here's a great song to listen to that goes along with this: Inside of Me
©copyright: Julie L. Todd 2008


Shanita Waters said... Reply to comment

Hello... that was an awesome post. I truly enjoyed it. Your post was very thought provoking.


Shanda said... Reply to comment

I am in awe at how God is speaking through your experiences to encourage my heart. Thank you for the e-mail. I looked up this song on YouTube this morning!

As I experience the pruning in my own life and as I read your post He has given me my connection: my precious little one, a "new life" within me to help me wait and watch to see if I too will survive the pruning and experience LIFE.

Which by the way, without planning it, we picked the name Zoe which is of Greek origin meaning LIFE!

Just To Praise Him... said... Reply to comment

Great post as usual. Girl, let's just fly as high as we can and not be afraid of falling. Go wide open in warp speed for God and whatever happens happens. This is the great adventure. The adventure of a lifetime and god wants us to suck it dry for all it is worth. You with me?!!


Laura said... Reply to comment

Oh, Julie, you know I love this one! The trees are losing their leaves up here too. This morning, I watched several fall from my Pear tree in what seemed like slow motion.

Laid bare. Yes, I've been there.

It is so beautiful. This transparent vulnerability. It can be painful, but these days I ask Him to prune, prune, prune!

Such a lovely post.


Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

I will read this in a little bit. First needed to comment from your comment at Nicole's Just to Praise Him.

YOU are his beauty!

Thank you for gifting us with you!

I'll be back. Gotta take Justin to basketball practice now. Thankful to see a new entry. I've missed you.

Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

This was so so beautiful Julie. I was just thinking about how God prunes us as I was pruning some rose bushes earlier this week. I loved the words you used.

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

As a person who loves to garden and prune and plant, I relate deeply to this word picture. As I've dug into the soil of the earth, God has also dug into my heart. I've found Him and His love there among the dirt and seeds and leaves. He still reveals truths about Him to me in nature. And yes, pruning lasts for a moment, while new life lasts forever.

I'm so thankful for the pruning God has done in you. I can't imagine another Julie. The one who was captive. ?? Is that possible? I'm glad you are free to be loved. Loved by the Gardener.

I'm all about sharing His love too.

Glad for the new life and beauty in You.

Have a great weekend.
Love ya,

Miss G said... Reply to comment

I have been/am being pruned this weekend. Thank you for sharing this. Your writing is touching so many. Thank you for letting His gifts and teaching be multiplied through you. Kelly

Lelia Chealey said... Reply to comment

Loved this!!! And love what you wrote here: Being laid bare is the preparation for new life. Pruning is the promise of a new beginning. A beginning of life as it was always meant to be.

I so needed to hear this today my friend. :)
Thanks for your encouragement. I wish we lived CLOSE!! :)

Amy said... Reply to comment


Once again you have described beautifully what God has been doing in my heart.

Your words were just what my heart needed today to draw out my emotions, to nudge me to reflect on God's goodness.

It's been hard sitting on the edge with the Lord, not knowing for sure if my family will be able to stay in our home of 22 years because of my husband's job loss.

As hard as it is living day to day in blind faith - not knowing what tomorrow holds for us, I wouldn't trade the difficulties for anything. The pruning is what has driven me to the arms of Christ. No matter what happens, He will be there. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

The song spoke to my heart as well. I wept tears of joy and release through most of it...especially these words: "Now I walk along side my Father without fear of what may come tomorrow." His love is matter what may come.

Thank you, Julie, for blessing me abundantly today.

Love you,

Heather@Mommymonk said... Reply to comment

It's awesome to see the Maker of New Life work, isn't it? I can identify with your feelings of deadness and wondering when or if new life would come, but He is faithful to bring about amazing changes in us, isn't He? He is the master gardener of hearts.

amycloud said... Reply to comment

Julie, What a beautiful post. I have felt that way too. I know that there are things in my life that need to be removed so I can bloom into the plant He would have me to be. This process is not easy, but I pray His strength will flow through me. God bless you for this. Have a wonderful day.

Cindy said... Reply to comment

I cannot believe how closely our more mature adult lives have paralleled Every time I read one of your posts I feel as though it is exactly where I am or have recently been.
Being laid bare ~ that has been my lot for the past nearly 2 years. I am so thankful I am finally seeing signs of new growth and the hope of spring after a very long winter season. I know it is not completely over yet I feel such hope.
Thank you for blessing me again, as always.

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

"Being laid bare gives us the chance to have our perspective changed to see what He sees; who we were always meant to be. We are given the chance of a lifetime, fresh, beautiful, abundant new life. We can now be to be who we were always meant to be, as our eyes are opened we will see. It is then we become who He has always known us to be, His chosen and dearly loved."

How could I possibly add anything more eloquent than that? You are amazing, Dear One. And re: the writing...You need to continue. It's who you are...but...and this is a big but (and certainly MHO), taking a break is a-ok. Much love, Julie. xxxooogretchen