The Shape of a Life

I’m learning so much from my plumcot trees. My two-year old plumcot is finally old enough to prune into the kind of shape I’m hoping for. Shaping a tree like this seems so odd; you remove healthy, beautiful branches–not because of damage or disease–but simply because they aren’t part of the plan.

The lesson: I always remember that God might prune good things from our lives because He’s shaping us. It might not make any sense to say good-bye to people, places, projects, or anything that God removes from us, but the stunning shape comes from discarded parts. In this photo, I just removed half the tree!

A two-year old plumcot tree planted from seed.

I then turn to care for my one-year old plums. If you notice, these require special support, and I often tie the branches to stakes to train what will become the sturdy trunk. But imagine how constricting and how narrow for the tree!

The lesson: I think of how God often brings our lives to a point where we feel constrained or tied down. Often parents of young children feel this way. Or we feel this way in our locations or in what we perceive to be narrow and restricted callings. But what if this, too, is a strengthening and a straightening for what’s ahead for us?

I’m also learning the particular patience of taking the long view in life. These trees don’t begin to blossom until three years. and even then, nothing guarantees the kind of fruit I’m hoping for.

The lesson: Will I find contentment in God’s plan for my own fruit-bearing? I think about the plum tree that will grow and grow, year after year. If it’s the kind that won’t bear fruit, I consider the beauty of those leaves and branches that can house bird nests and squirrels and maybe one day an owl. I think of children in a hundred years who could climb it or who might sit in its shade. Even without the kind of fruit one expects from a fruit tree, the tree produces an altogether different kind of blessing and nourishment.

God shapes every life differently. And every life bears different fruit.

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