But Edlin would NOT let up today. First, he came and said the house was looking rather led. You might remember from a few blogs ago that he's callin' my house Ugly.
I smiled brightly and shrugged. But a few hours later he was back, asking if I had any "giant scissor things" with which he could surprise Pastor Matt in his absence and trim up.
"Nope," I said again. "No giant scissor things. It's not that bad! When Matt comes back, I'll have him trim."
But not an hour later, Edlin sprinted back to the door, noting that he had some free time and literally taking me by the hand to our neighbors house, and pointed to a violent looking pair of giant scissor things propped against the door with an almost heavenly glow of predestination.
I couldn't say no.
"I will make it SO bel!" Edlin gushed excitedly.
Just a few days ago, I watched a different friend prepare for graduation by entirely annihilating a full wall of blossoms in the name of "making it bel."
I couldn't say no, but I couldn't watch, either. The kids and I went to see 2nd year students beat 3rd year in the big end-of-the-year soccer match, and I made a conscious effort to keep my eyes off the house, reminding myself that they were just flowers.
Oh man. OH man. It's bad. So so bad.
The beautiful arch of blossoms framing my door is all over our front yard, and instead dozens of leafy stakes are standing 4 feet tall around my door, just high enough to avoid being an impalement hazard for the kids.
Everything is gone. Every beautiful red bloom, every creative spray of green--seeking out it's own path, every wild curve of life.
"Ta-dah!" Edlin said, beaming. "Now, in a few months, it will be just BEAUTIFUL."
"Thanks..." I smiled faintly as he bounded off, as satisfied of a grim reaper as ever there was :)
What about by Wednesday, I couldn't help thinking, when the EBS board comes to stay with us? What about by Saturday, when graduation is being held in our yard? What about Monday, when Matt gets home and sees this!?
Still, I couldn't help but laugh with Kerline and Naomi later this afternoon when they shrugged at my distress and sweetly suggested I try watering it every day and see :)
It seems cliche, but as I cleaned up the yard in the dark tonight after I got the girls down for bed, I asked the Lord to show me something from this silly incident, and He is.
So often, I think my life looks just fine. Yeah, there might be some holiness lacking or some shortcomings in my attitude, and sure, I might be pursing my own wild path, but--it's "natural." That's just "me"! "That's the way God made me" I've heard from others and from myself so many times.
But I realized tonight that that's no excuse. That doesn't mean God wants to leave us wild and natural. Doesn't mean that God doesn't have something far better in store. Something more beautiful.
Don't get me wrong...God's pruning does not often FEEL beautiful or LOOK beautiful...at least not at first. But His plans for us--to give us a hope and a future, to be righteous as He is righteous, to live set apart in a world that is consumed with itself, to be in RIGHT relationship with Himself--will have beautiful results.
We've known quite a few people in our lives who have walked away from the Lord when the trimming started, much as I did today. We like Him loving us, we like Him making us, but the reality is that we don't much mind who we are, we are comfortable in our sin and lostness, and when it comes down to it, pruning is painful and leaves you feeling ugly. No thanks.
Not only is is it painful when we let God point out and cut back places of ourselves that aren't of Him, but it can be shameful, just as I will be embarrassed on Wednesday when our house guests come. I definitely didn't want anyone seeing our yard looking like this, and there is nothing I can do to fix it.
The pruning WAS painful--though I admit--necessary, and the immediate result is embarrassing and impossible to hide, but I know Edlin is right. In a few months, it WILL be beautiful. Disciplined, full of fruitful blossoms, shaped...Beautiful.
Is God sending/allowing some Edlins in our lives today? Reminders that our free, natural self is far from the beauty that He desires our lives to be? Reminders that our attitudes, our desires, our spending, our hobbies, our speech, our focuses...have some pruning to be done? Some shaping?
I'm asking (OK, I'm TRYING to ask) the Lord to show me those wayward branches in my life, and to prune them.
I'm praying for strength and courage to ask the Lord to chop away. To grab some--if need be--scary looking giant scissor things and go at my life. It may mean some ugly days. Some wounded pride. Some unexpected results.
Ok, it WILL mean some ugly days and wounded pride. I know of one relationship right of the bat that God's been asking me to let Him work on for a while now and I've been clinging to my own undomesticated way.
But if our eyes are set on things above and not on earthly things, on future beauty and bright hope for the distance, on being His and not our own, then we can welcome, even ASK for, the pruning.
At the end of the day, I want to look like I'm always being shaped by Him...not like natural Stacey.
Even if it makes natural Stacey look like, well...this.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit,
He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.