Friday, June 25, 2010

Tending the Vines

Lately, one of the pleasures my husband and I have shared is tending the melon vines in our garden. We erected a trellis for them to grow on, but they constantly require training to get them to grow on it. Their little tendrils reach out and cling to whatever they find--a piece of straw, a weed, or another part of themselves--but generally not the trellis! So each evening, we go out and gently pull them away from whatever they have seen fit to grasp, and instead wrap their curly feelers around the trellis. We want them to grow upward, but without our guidance, they just seem to go whatever way they choose.

In the same way, I think God works with me, unclenching my hand from the attachments that keep me from growing upward into him and his purpose for me. (Attachments are the compulsive conditions that rob us of our freedom. They can be material items or habits such as overwork, racism, or even spiritual practices that have become obsessions for us). I am grateful for the way his is pruning me, pulling me away from attachments that keep me from clinging to him, and training me to hold on to him instead. I have to let go of the weeds and straw in my life if I am going to cling to God.

Sometimes it's easy for me to let go, because he has prepared me in advance by showing me his better way, but other times I'm not ready to let go of the attachments. Yet even when I resist, God loves me too much to leave me where I am. He may gently apply pressure or he may more forcefully remove my grasp from whatever is keeping me from him, just as I sometimes must break a tendril off my melon vine when it is clinging so tightly to the wrong thing. When such changes are happening in me, I have a hard time seeing God's purpose in it all, but that's when I just need to abide. For while he may have torn me away from something I am attached to, he does not abandon me, but invites me ever more to cling to him.

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