So this week wasn’t as bad as last week was for me, but it had its rough moments… but usually around the parenting thing. I know my kids need more sleep, and when they don’t get that needed sleep, man alive do they get grumpy. WE got in a little late last night because we were at my sister’s house, and getting one of those kids to just bathe and get ready for bed was like pulling teeth out of a crocodile who didn’t want to take a bath (I know this for a fact because I’ve tried it… what, haven’t you?).
As I was pushing this kid to quickly clean up so they could get into bed at a half-decent time, it was blurted out “YOU’RE SO MEAN” (not by me, but by this particular kid). This wasn’t the first time, and it most certainly won’t be the last time. I just think it’s funny that we sometimes feel that when we aren’t getting what we want or things aren’t going the way we would like or someone or something seems to be the source of our current frustration, we would think that they are being mean, or nasty, or very intentionally trying to hurt us because otherwise we should be able to get everything we want and life would just be peaches.
Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but my life has very rarely ever been peaches. Does that mean my life has been sabotaged? Does that mean someone is always out to get me? Does that mean that I’m just too beautiful for my own good?
No, I don’t think so. I think it just means that we are living life and sometimes living life comes with its share of bumps. And while these bumps can sometimes be hard, we can remember Paul’s words in Romans 5 of how suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. All this tells me not that someone is out to harm us, but rather someone is out there to help us.
Kind of like how I just want my kid to go to bed in time before he is too tired. And for that to happen, he needs to quickly get ready for bed. And for that to happen, he might have to butt heads with dear old dad.
Sometimes people read this gospel reading and feel a bit afraid. They might think that if we don’t produce that fruit, then we’ll be pruned off the vine and thrown into the fire. That doesn’t sound at all pleasant. In fact, it might even sound mean.
It sounds mean until we really see the whole purpose of the pruning. I am no gardener (I literally didn’t even know vines had branches, I thought they just had more vines growing out of them), but I’m told that pruning is part of the growing process. Various plants need to have the dead parts of them cut off, lest those dead parts spread their deadness to the living parts. We don’t want that to happen in order for that plant to continue growing and flourish.
So us being pruned isn’t a punishment. It isn’t a way to teach us a lesson. It isn’t revenge. Rather, it is what needs to be done in order for us to grow, to flourish, to embrace the gifts that have been divinely given to us through Jesus. This is how God abides in us and us in God. This is how we are formed and reformed. This is how we live as God’s children, constantly changing and being changed, that we might see more fully the goodness and grace of God.
Pastor Christ Kratzer out of Shelby, North Carolina, whose writings I always find inspiring, tweeted this (and I have since retweeted):
The Gospel is not that God wants you to know how bad you are so He can make you good, it’s that God wants you to know how Good He is that you might know His goodness has become yours.
— Chris Kratzer (@chriskratzer) April 19, 2018
These are wise words. These are grace-filled words. These are words that need to be heard, believed in, and accepted.
Thanks be to God.
Have a great week, everyone!