Change Is Inevitable. Growth Is Optional.
I have four boys and they’re all very different from each other.The two very different personalities of my two middle boys were highlighted just over a year ago. We lived in London at the time in a nice suburb on a tree lined grid of Victorian terraced houses. It was when spring was just trying to make itself known and we rounded a corner and saw the most beautiful cherry blossom tree in bloom. Zak, who was 6 at the time pulled on my hand. " Look Mummy," he said, " a cherry blossom tree, they're my favourite type of tree!" " They're my favourite too Zak" I answered. Jackson, aged 4 looked at this lovely tree in disgust and said.”I hate those trees, they're so pink!” Then, as we crossed the street he said “Those are the trees I like. they're my favourites” I followed his gaze and there stood such an ugly tree! It wasn't that it really was an ugly tree, I have no idea what type of tree it was but normally it looked lovely. Strong and tall with lots of green leaves, but at this moment it was ugly. This is because a few weeks earlier a tree surgeon (isn’t that what they’re called?) had come and pruned it and he’d pruned it pretty severely too! I remembered seeing him do it and thinking that it was a shame because this lovely regal looking tree with it's strong trunk and leafy branches was now being reduced to a just a trunk with some short stubby branches sticking out instead. It didn't look attractive anymore and didn't seem to be fulfilling its purpose, to shade us from the sun.
Weeks went by and this tree just looked the same and then one day when I was walking past it I saw a change. New leaves and fresh branches were starting to grow. It was starting to flourish again and every day when I walked past it seemed to be growing some more, until by the summer the leaves were in full bloom again and that tree was standing taller, stronger and more beautiful than ever.
It was then that I realised that the tree was so much like me. So many times in my life I’ll be in a season when I think everything is in it’s place. I’ve got it all figured out and things are a little more comfortable. I can relax and just coast for a while and take it easy. Usually that’s when the pruning begins. Pruning is painful and sometimes ugly. It cuts away at the dead branches in our lives and can makes us feel bare, exposed and uncertain of the future. But what we need to remember is that just like that tree; we're going to grow again and be stronger, taller and more fruitful than ever before. We must allow the pruning. And dare I say..embrace it. John Maxwell says “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Change for the tree was inevitable. As the seasons change they affect it. Leaves fall to the ground and the elements batter and blow, thats a given. But in order for the tree to bear new life, for ti’s roots to go down further and it’s branches to grow taller; the pruning must happen. That brings the growth. That brings the beauty.
Change is inevitable
Change is also inevitable in our lives. Seasons change. Sometimes that’s just life and sometimes it’s because God needs to do some pruning in our lives. If we want the growth we must accept the pruning and in order to see the new leaves we have to sometimes put up with feeling barren for a while. We have to realise that resisting the pruning means that the growth is minimal. The tree doesn’t have a choice but we do. It’s a case of always remembering that the pain produces the gold in our lives and seasons which are tough are exactly that: seasons. God never intends for them to last forever, they’re just an inevitable part of our growth in him.
So whether you brace yourself and bear it or find the strength to embrace it always remember: the pruning is just for a season and will probably produce the greatest fruit you’ve seen so far. And just like Jackson saw in that cut back, pruned down tree there’s something beautiful about getting rid of the old and making way for the new. So look for the beauty in your barrenness. I promise you, it’s there.