by Marcia Lee Laycock
I’ve had a geranium plant for several years. Every spring I put it outside and it flourishes. Every fall I bring it inside and it goes a bit dormant, but still manages to flower now and then, though some of the leaves shrivel and go yellow, then brown. Almost every time I water it through the winter I trim off the dead leaves, dropping them into the large pot that holds the plant. They crumble and eventually become nourishment for that old geranium.
I go through a similar process when I write, trimming what is not necessary from my sentences, paragraphs and chapters. Sometimes it’s a painful process. (I love my words too much, methinks!) But I take comfort in knowing that even what is discarded can be useful. I cut and paste the discarded scenes, and even sentences, popping them into a ‘bits and pieces’ file. Some of them are used in other stories and paragraphs. They are all nourishment for my work.
And a similar process happens in my spiritual life. God is the pruner, taking away those things that are not useful or beneficial for me at the time. He is quite skilled at it, though I sometimes object. Sometimes the action makes no sense and may even feel like punishment.
Such was the case some time ago, when I made plans to attend a writers’ conference with two friends. That particular year the main speaker was Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, a man I had admired for many years both as a person and a writer. But when I prayed about going, I had a strong negative check in my spirit. I ignored it. Surely God wanted me to go. There would be so much benefit to me as a writer and a believer. But each time I prayed I had the same feeling. Then one of my friends called to say she’d been praying and felt that God did not want her to go. Then my other friend admitted the same thing had happened to her. I was not happy. I could not understand why God would prevent us from doing something that would be so good for all of us. But in the end, we were obedient.
It’s at those times that I have to remember that God is always on my side. He gives and takes away, always with our good in mind, as I do when I prune my geranium.
I also try to remember that God wastes nothing. The very process of pruning has purpose and is part of His plan. The battle I waged within my spirit during that time taught me much about obedience and about focusing on the nature of God’s character. It still saddens me that I was not able to hear Mr. Solzhenitsyn speak, but the benefit I acquired in learning obedience was no doubt much greater. It helped me to be able to echo, with sincerity, the words of Job –
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:231).
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.
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