Forced to Change
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been forced to make changes in our lives, sometimes willingly and sometimes with resistance. I don't know anyone personally who is embracing the "new normal" enthusiastically, but we are all having to make some significant adjustments.
It reminds me of my early recovery when my 12-Step Sponsor would remind me over and over again that trials and difficult circumstances are "opportunities for growth." Or that change is not difficult, but only my resistance to change. Or "this, too, shall pass." It was as if he didn't understand that I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it now!
This past Sunday my pastor spoke about this season we are in, a season of forced change. She likened forced change to pruning and read from the Bible in the book of John. In this passage, Jesus says the following: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit."
There is a principle here that is true in the natural and in the spiritual. In the natural, if you have ever grown roses or fruit trees, you know that pruning is the key for increased fruit. Flowering plants produce more flowers when the new growth is pinched back. The same is true in the spiritual. We tend to get complacent in our routines, get satisfied with whatever amount of success or enjoyment we are experiencing, and we periodically need something to shake us out of our comfort zone. This shaking, or pruning, is in this way a reward for our fruitfulness, that we might produce more.
I am in no way suggesting that a loving God is responsible for the corona virus, but my experience tells me that God loves to take what was meant for evil, for death and destruction, and turn it around and use it for good. My wife and I are facing changes in our jobs, forced changes, that we are believing will become opportunities. We are all facing changes in our social activities that we would never have voluntarily chosen, but which could result in healthier lifestyles.
How are you being pruned? And what will be the increase from the pruning?
Increased intimacy with family and loved ones.
Increased resilience to overcome obstacles.
Increased confidence in our abilities to take on new challenges.
Increased faith that God really is working all things together for good.