Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Deadwood and Divine Pruning

The shrubs and landscaping in front of my house were overgrown and threatening to completely block the sidewalk. It seems crazy now, but even though it looked messy and was becoming an azalea jungle, I couldn't figure out how to fix it. 

I didn't realize it, but I needed an expert.

My friend, Linda Buchanan, mentioned her new yard man one day. Mr. Bailey was a wonder and a great help, she said, so I called him. That first day, I instructed him to clean up the front and trim the shrubs a little. 

I had no idea what he was about to do.

A few hours later, I walked outside to see an enormous pile of brush. Mr. Bailey had trimmed more than I expected. My heart sank as I thought, "My azaleas! He has cut down my azaleas!" I hurried around front to find, not destruction, but order. He had trimmed up the mess and brought it under control. 

Instead of a jungle, I had lovely landscaping again.

John the Baptizer's listeners were in a similar situation. They knew they had a mess in their lives and that something needed to be done. That's why they had come out to the banks of the Jordan to hear him. Their heritage wasn't enough to save them, nor their sacrifices. They were in a quandary. What then? What could they do?

He began by giving practical examples of sacrificial behavior. Shortly, however, Jesus would come for baptism, and John would recognize exactly what they all needed. The Lamb of God would take away their sin. They couldn't do anything to rectify their guilt but Jesus would do it for them and He would soon set them free.

Maybe you, too, are wondering what to do about problems in your life or in the lives of loved ones. You may not realize it, but, like me, you need an expert. 

The answer is incredibly simple. Look to Jesus. 

He can clean up the mess of your life as well as that of your loved ones. He can clean up the guilt and shame and set you free.

Today, let's pray for a heart willing to accept the kind of divine pruning only Christ can do.

And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" (Luke 3:10 NASB)

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NASB)