The calendar says we can expect the official arrival of spring on March 20 and if you look around, you’ll see signs of the new season already emerging. The temperature is creeping up on the thermometer as the sun takes longer to set in the evenings. Only a few winter clothes remain on the clearance racks as the latest in swimwear is making a debut. Ball players are preparing for a new season as neighbors step outside to reconnect with each other. Gardeners are beginning to revitalize their yards, replacing plants that didn’t survive winter’s chill and pruning those that did. Pruning the plants: I’ve been told it’s important. My husband, the family gardener, has explained the significance of this annual process. Approaching the plants with sharpened clippers, he carefully examines each one to determine its state of health and potential for growth. Then he proceeds to cut. Oh, it’s not just a little nip here and a tuck there. He cuts, and cuts, and cuts again. I tolerantly stand by and observe this ritual, trying to be supportive of his dedication to grooming our yard and providing such beautiful blooms throughout the spring and summer. However, I have a difficult time when he’s pruning the plants, even though I’m certain he means well. Knowing my struggle, he patiently tolerates my complaints that he may be too aggressive with those clippers as he explains the purpose of this procedure once again. I just know what I see. There before me are plants that once were tall, mature-looking, well-formed specimens. Having demonstrated their productive capabilities, they’ve now been stripped of their tender limbs right down to the main arteries that give them life and hope for the future. Beside them are once prolific branches, now slated for the trash pile. There we stand, side by side, my husband with a sense of accomplishment and me with a sense of bewilderment. Then we wait. Now, my husband knows patience doesn’t always come easily for me. So, with all the empathy he can muster, he gently turns my attention from a past loss to a future possibility. We begin to talk about the potential for these plants and recall past pruning that provided us with beautiful, fragrant flowers. Reality also reminds us it will take time, patience and attention to details. We’ll need to fertilize, water, and pay attention to how the sun will greet the plants each day. We must watch for any unexpected last-minute dips in the thermometer and protect tender new growth from the March winds. My role is to do what I can, to trust my gardener, and to wait for the results to come. While I wait for new buds on the bushes in my yard, I’m also waiting on answers from God for concerns in my life. Watching and wondering as pruning and preparation take place for whatever He has planned for the days ahead. Trusting that He is at work in ways I can’t see or may not understand, and that His pruning, painful as it sometimes can be, will bring about new growth, new joy and new blessings. Consider this passage from Proverbs Chapter 3 in the Bible’s Old Testament. (This version is from The Message). Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this. If you, too, are experiencing a time of pruning and preparation in your life for what is to come, then my friends, consider God’s promises, follow His direction, find hope in His faithfulness, and be encouraged as you wait on Him. Nancy Williams, LPC maintains a counseling, coaching and consulting practice and is the author of “Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child” (Bethany House, 2011). Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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