My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
– Proverbs 3:11-12
It sits in our dining room in all its four-foot, leafy splendor. It’s a fig tree, and it’s a bonsai.
At least, it was a bonsai.
Several years ago, I became interested in bonsai trees and decided to get a starter tree. The fig I found in a local big box store had already been trimmed into a lovely little miniature tree with a twisted trunk.
For a while I religiously nipped and trimmed at the branches to keep it stunted. Then I just couldn’t stand to see it confined any more. One day I freed its roots and transplanted it into a bigger pot. It took off from there. I have kept it fed, repotted, and in the light. It has long ago outgrown the space for which it was intended. Now it commands its own corner in our little breakfast nook.
That’s one of the many reasons I can’t be God. I don’t have the wisdom and control to prune back unruly lives. Creating a bonsai, like training a soul, takes close supervision, an artist’s eye, and a firm hand. It’s hard to cut away a healthy branch or snip off new growth. It must be even tougher to employ the necessary measures to train a human heart upward, the way a gardener binds the branches of a plants to force its growth in the desired direction.
As a parent, I know a bit of God’s heartache. It’s brutally hard to make decisions no one understands, and which go against our own natural desire to cherish and spoil our offspring.
Lack of training creates, by default, the very problems we seek to avoid.
We want everyone to be happy. But life without restraint is a miserable existence.
Pruning hurts. It hurts both the gardener and the plant. In the end, however, it yields a stronger, more beautiful and fruitful plant that reflects the artistry of its creator.
God is not being cruel when He allows us to go through painful times. Discipline is the proof we are His. It’s the assurance He loves us and is completely devoted to our ultimate well-being.
When you feel the pressure of trial, know that behind it is the hand of the perfect creator and father, shaping you into all you can be.
Rest in His hands. Trust in His goodness. Believe in His love for you. Know, without a shadow of doubt, He is shaping you to shine in the place He has for you.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
– Hebrews 12:11