Friday, April 6, 2012


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.  – John 15:2

For traumatized kids, loss is such a profound part of who they are, where they come from, and even who they’ll likely become.  They’ve lost their first family.  Some have lost a culture and a first language.  Some have lost friends and possessions, even real estate (some Eastern European orphans own homes which usually end up being signed over to the state when they are adopted).

However, loss can be a good thing as well.  Sometimes, we are moved on from things that held us in bondage.  Sometimes, God cuts off a branch, or removes a stumbling block in our lives so that we can go on to bear much more fruit – so we can experience the good He has waiting for us – good we could not begin to grow into while still attached to the branch that needed pruning – the loss that needed to happen.

I don’t know about trees, but when I get cut, it hurts!  I don’t like going through pruning of any kind.  Even though I know losing weight will benefit my health, I don’t like losing it.  I don’t like the process.  Even though I know I cannot move on in ministry while tied to obligations that no longer serve God’s purpose for my life, I don’t like changes.  And on top of all that, I am probably THE most loyal person I know – sounds like I’m bragging, but I’ve been told it’s more of a fault than an asset. 

I don’t leave relationships easily.  I never have.  I was never one of those 7th graders that said, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”  Friendship has never been a casual thing to me.  To me, there is a sharp difference between “friend” and “acquaintance.”  Friendship is not seen as something I would fight for only so long as it benefits or blesses me personally.  I do not share confidences.  Your heart, your secrets -- they are all safe with me.  Always.  I do not bad mouth my friends to others, nor gossip about them.  I am fiercely loyal.  And if that’s a fault, then I guess there are worse faults.  However, I have learned some things the last couple of months.   If you’re not bearing fruit, if something in your life is holding you back from the ministry God has planned for your life, if someone is feeding you lies about the people He WANTS you to work with, minister to, and be under their spiritual authority, then God’s going to prune away those branches that will ultimately cause your faith to die.  He’s going to get rid of the dead weight, so new life can sprout.  Even when we want to hold on for dear life (or is it “dear death?”), and try to “fix” things, if they’re broken – if they never really worked in the first place – or if they were really one-sided, He will take away that which keeps us from becoming closer to him – to serving him. 

Our family’s been through the pruning process – through the years -- and especially through these last couple of months.  We’ve all had some branches pruned away and some branches are still in the process of being pruned.  But, oh WOW, it’s been pretty amazing to see what God has done in the process.  We are excited for this coming Easter Sunday, for example.  We are part of a brand new church plant – a new branch from the tree of our home church.  We cannot WAIT to see what God has in store for this Sunday – for the church, for our kids, for our pastors, our ministry leaders, and ourselves.  We are letting go of things that held us in bondage and moving freely, so freely, into His marvelous light.

Our kids still have work to do.  We still have work to do.  We still stumble.  We still fall.  We still pray for people that will come along side us and support us at those times.  But we have hope and a peace that passes all understanding.  The kids are hopeful.  They’ve come a long way.  They are looking forward to a future, even as they’ve given up much from the past.  They’ve taught us so much.

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