The Pursuit in Pruning

Lately I have been learning about pursuit, specifically God’s pursuit of me. In a culture that encourages us to look at pursuit with the world’s standard instead of God’s, it is so easy to miss the small and grand ways that Jesus pursues us over and over again. But the fact that He wants to teach me about the word pursuit shows how much He is in pursuit of me. He longs for me to know about this love in a Heavenly way. And He longs for you to know it too.

John 15:1-2 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Pursuit in the form of pruning. This is the way the Lord grabbed my attention to transform how I would come to understand this word. Sometimes the best way the Lord can pursue our hearts is by pruning a branch in order for us to be more fruitful and beautiful in the way He intended for us to be. A few months ago, this was the case for me.

Like most others, I want to be married. And after checking off many of the “next step” boxes in my life, it seems that marriage is the obvious next one to complete. But I will be honest, as much as I want marriage, I have walls built as high as heaven that do not allow this to be done very easily. Allowing this to happen means letting go of my fears, which means giving up control, which leaves room to make a wrong decision or to be hurt, and that seems just like too much of a risk. So instead of letting go, I found another way to fill this gap of male companionship. Rather than allowing a guy to pursue me, I pursue him first in a way where I still hold much of the control. This way I could fill the void I desired for companionship while still feeling out potential outcomes. Basically, I could still keep one foot in the “maybe becoming more than friends”  zone while the other foot was securely placed in a world holding out hope that God’s best for me would soon arrive. Maybe you can relate?

This was the dead area in my life that badly need to be pruned. An area where the Lord was showing me that my fear and control I held with clenched fists was stopping me from experiencing pursuit in the way He wanted me to know it. And if I didn’t let go soon, I may miss out on moments of pursuit that He wanted to gift me with in the future. However unclenching your fists is not easy, and with Him asking me to let go of fear and control, I knew I also had to let go of the pursuit of my best guy friend who had been filling the role of companionship in my current season. I knew choosing to back away from this friendship was going to hurt badly, but it was clear that I had to do it in order to totally trust and rest in the story that the Lord has already written for me. The next month this verse became my hope in His pursuit of pruning.

“Count it all joy, {my sisters}, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4, ESV

Perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. THAT is what I want. James says we gain steadfastness through the testing of our faith, which in many cases, requires the giving up of things. This testing will likely require hard and painful work, as most holy refinement doesn’t come without fighting through a battle ground. But please remember, while you are laboring, none of it is ever done in vain.  God’s pursuit of our hearts may not always feel and look pretty, and in my case, there was a definite lack of that precious joy described in the first week or two of not being able to reach out to my friend. However He continually reminds me that He sees, rewards, and cherishes every act that is done to please Him. He honors our waiting and extends an open hand to trust Him with expectant hope to see how He will transform us. We have to remember, the Lord gives us these moments and seasons to show us His character and the way he sees, pursues, and loves us deeply. The verse also urges us to allow steadfastness to have “it’s full effect in us” so that we may be perfect and lacking nothing. In order for us to be truly whole and complete, we must allow the Lord to do his work fully. We cannot expect to be fully healed if we skip this step. This likely means that we choose to leave behind our plans to charge forward and bury the hurt, and instead sit in the pain as long as needed until we can actually feel and see the difference that healing brings.

And friends, the healing of the full work will come, and the wounds that were once exposed will begin to form and close together with God’s needle of grace and affection.  Our Father knows the fragileness of our hearts and He uses His tenderness to speak love and wisdom into the deepest hurt and desires that live there. He knows – even more than myself – my hope of one day being pursued and married, and He desires to show me how fervently He has been pursuing me all this time. The Lord kindly revealed to me that in order to fully experience an earthly romance in the way He designed for it to be, I must change the “pattern of pursuit” I have been taking and choose to look to Him – The One Who First Pursued Us All.

After a time of joy, tears, encouraging conversations, and quiet and loud moments, the Lord did teach me about the act of pursuit, in the way I pursue people, the way He wants another to pursue me, and most importantly, how He is the Ultimate Pursuer of us all. This is who HE is for us –  His love for us is unwavering, and He will always be devoted to our best interests. He is faithful in all of His ways and will never leave a promise undone. He is our constant source of security and every word from His book is true. He is our most solid friend, and He shows that to us over and over again through His constant pursuit of our hearts – even through the pursuit of pruning.

My prayer is that our eyes would be open to catch all the ways that the Lord pursues us uniquely in small and grand ways. And that if this pursuit happens to comes in the form of pruning, we would be brave enough to press into it, allowing the full work to be done and anticipating the joy and healing that will follow.

Friends, you are deeply loved.

xx

Han

 

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