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Pruning for new growth—removing distractions during this season of isolation to allow for new growth in our lives and our relationship with God

Alyssa Vasquez

May 28, 2020

“All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain” (Hebrews 12:27 NLT). This passage in Hebrews mentions that the things of this world that can be shaken, will be shaken, and only what is unshakable will remain. As families are quarantined, as individuals are losing their jobs, and as nations, states, and cities, are enforcing “shelter in place” policies, what will remain for us? What is unshakable in our daily lives? Is it peace, joy, love, fear or worry? I want to reassure you that as we discover what is unshakable, one of the unshakable things in this life is God’s undeniable love for us and the process God uses to make us more like Him.

As we try our best to abide by the social distancing guidelines, what are some things that have been stripped from your daily tasks and activities? What are things that you have placed value in, that are now gone? Was it a promotion, a social group, status, outward appearance, a network, or your ability to come and go as you please? In this season of isolation, as many are calling it, aspects of life that we once held in high esteem are being removed. Is it not ironic that this is usually how God works and accomplishes His pruning in us? The pruning that God uses to make us more like Him is depicted in John 15, when Jesus says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2 NLT).

During this season, we can use this opportunity to remove distractions that will allow for new growth in our lives and in our relationship with God.

A landscaping company can perhaps best describe the process of pruning: “pruning is the practice of removing specific portions of a tree, such as roots, buds, or branches, that are dead and dying due to pests, disease, and lack of sunlight…Pruning allow[s] room for new growth” and promotes healthy plant development and aesthetics. During this season, we can use this opportunity to remove distractions that will allow for new growth in our lives and in our relationship with God.

The uncertainty of these times can be anxiety-inducing, but it’s important to remember that we might be in this for the long haul. If that is the case, we have to pace ourselves so we don’t drive our loved ones crazy—and we must learn to value what truly matters. One thing that does matter is your unshakable identity in Christ, which can only come from your Creator, who loves and cares for you dearly. God was not surprised by COVID-19. God was not “caught off guard” by the quarantine, the economic impact, or the “shelter in place” guidelines. God was already here before we arrived on the scene and God is with us now. God is with you in your unemployment, your sickness, your isolation; God is with you in your coming and in your going (see Psalm 121:8).

God can use all things, the hard and sad things, to draw us closer to Him. Be encouraged, choose to rise to the occasion, and use this crisis as an opportunity to allow the unshakable things to remain in our lives. Personally, I want to come out of this better than before, I want to come out of this season closer to God, closer to my goals, and closer to the purposes God has for me. I want to be a good steward of the time allotted to me in this season.

What will you do with your time? What will you do with your lack, your unemployment? What will you do with the ministry or the church God has entrusted to you? As my brother and sister, I pray God grows you during this time. Give God whatever you are facing, your abundance or your lack, because it is already His! As Romans 8:28 reminds us, God is the only one who can work all things out for our good.

Alyssa Vasquez is founder of YouBelong, LLC, which helps connect individuals to communities.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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