Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dead Heads

My gaze fell on the lilac bush in our yard as we left to go somewhere a few days ago.  "Oh.  While I'm thinking of it, those dead heads on the lilac bush will have to be pruned off." 

My husband turned to me briefly as he drove.  "Why?"

"There were a few left on there the previous year, and I noticed that we didn't have as many blooms this year as we should have.  They won't grow back if the flowers have gone to seed and stay there until the next spring."  

"Oh.  Okay," he responded, and the topic turned to other things.

I recalled that conversation when I was out on the deck this morning and heard the snip, snip, snip of the pruning shears as he cut off those lilac dead heads. Bless him! 

Dead heads.  Past productivity.  Last year's blooms don't mean this year's buds.  It's a simple lesson.  

But how many times do I rest on my laurels and think I've arrived, that I can coast, that I don't have to 'press in' - at least not with as much intensity as before?  How many times have I focused on the result of the relationship between me and God, and forgotten that it's the relationship that did it and that it's the relationship itself that must be maintained as if no results had ever been produced

Ouch.  That isn't a comfortable truth is it.  It's based on a much deeper truth, one that Jesus put His finger on many years ago: "Without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15)  Not, "you can do most stuff but I have to do the rest," or even, "you can only do a few things."  Nothing.  Zero.  Nada!!  

I like to think that I am capable of doing certain things on my own.  But the truth of the matter is that even the strength to believe, even the belief itself, are gifts that God gives. The breath I breathe, the beating heart, the power of thought - these are gifts. I can take no credit for them. So why do I think that I have any power over anything?  

That's the illusion isn't it...?  I have learned certain skills in the course of my life and I know how to apply those skills to achieve a desired outcome.  And it is that which deludes me into thinking that I can do it with everything.  But ... I can't.  Especially as it pertains to producing the fruit of the Spirit in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, kindness... all those and more. 

I think that it was brilliant that Paul likened the development of those qualities in believers to fruit. Fruit come from blossoms.  They can't produce themselves.  They grow out of the living plant - symbol of the long-term relationship between a believer and God. Nurtured by the sun (the Son), water (the Holy Spirit) constantly, continually flowing through the tree, a healthy tree will produce fruit.  Naturally.  It doesn't have to grunt, strain, and work up the fruit.  It just comes.  

The most amazing believers I have known in my life have not "tried" to produce that spiritual fruit; it has just been produced as they simply let God love them, let God know them ... the way He so desires.

And once produced - the fruit must be picked, used, taken from the tree.  If trees had feelings, it would seem a little harsh at first glance to rip something that amazing away from them. But if the fruit stays there on the trees ... it. will. rot.  And no fruit will be produced there until the old fruit is removed. The usefulness of the tree will be reduced. Often, in the wild, the best fruit are produced the year following a wild autumn or winter storm that sends the fruit flying from the branches.  From the pain of loss, loss of what has already come and gone, and served its purpose in our lives - new growth can happen.

Just like with dead heads.  

Fresh fruit, fresh blossoms.  Every year. Every season. No holding back.  No self-recriminations for dry times. It is what it is. Drink in the Holy Spirit, bask in the Son, lift your branches high to the Father. He will take care of the rest, the production of leaves, flowers, fruit (as He sees fit); others will see, will feast, will rest in your shade, will breathe in your fragrance.

Dedicated to a dear friend, Agnes Hawbolt, who passed away yesterday to be with the Lover of her soul.


  1. You write beautifully. And "lean on God fully" is a message I needed to hear. Thank you!

  2. Thank you. And you are welcome. I needed to hear it too. :)