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More From Linda Ross Shoaf

October 10, 2019 by Linda Ross Shoaf (Mississippi, USA)
Flowers from Linda's garden

While the incident with the raspberry bushes occurred several years ago, it continues to remind me how significant it is to prune plants and to thank God for lovingly trimming unwholesome areas in my spiritual life. In subsequent years, my focus shifted to arranging flowers from my garden. Those, too, required special care to produce acceptable blooms. Deadheading was a required chore.  

When we decided to worship at a church closer to our home, we learned they had no floral budget or means to have fresh flowers for services. The pastor and his wife loved fresh flowers and were delighted when my gardens could fill that void. We may have enjoyed raspberries from our few vines, but my husband and I quickly realized a ministry before us in providing bouquets for our church, neighbors, and even for a funeral and a wedding. Our gardens remained open for anyone who wanted cut flowers, seedlings, or perennial plants. We delighted in seeing the enjoyment they brought others, and they have often given us opportunities to witness to others—including repairmen who visited our home.

With our earthly time slipping away, God’s remarkable plan of aging has slowed my pace and caused me to evaluate my priorities. I can no longer tackle endless tasks or tend to all the needs of a garden. What is important is that I focus on doing what God desires of my time.

With my limited ability to work in the gardens, God has allowed me to enter another season of ministry. I enjoy writing about the association between healthy eating and our relationship with God. Many may think that’s an unlikely combination, but after many earlier years of training and teaching nutrition, I now share how those two areas relate to nourish body and spirit

It doesn’t matter whether we are pruning vines, deadheading spent blooms, or communicating through the written word—God gives us seasons of service. Regardless of my ministry, areas of my life continue to need pruning. For example, when I am caught up in rote phrases that sound good, I need reminding that phrases like, “I’ll pray for you,” may be inadequate. How much more effective it is to pause in my daily activities and present that person’s need to a listening holy God, lest I forget later.

Yes, God prunes me ─ one way or another. I expect God to continue to direct me along the paths he chooses. If we want to continue growing in the joy of the Lord’s salvation, we welcome that pruning to produce more abundant fruit during the time we have left on earth.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what is it that you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s People and like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”

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