What about this pruning? Trimming back parts of the healthy branch to make sure the greatest energy of the branch goes into making bigger and better fruit? Cutting parts of the branch in an effort to produce more quantity and quality?
If the branches of the vine could speak, they’d tell us, yes, it’s painful. Yeah, it hurts to be cut. But they’d also rejoice because they’re able now to produce more and better fruit as a result of that painful pruning.
I can look back on my life and see how God has pruned me. You can, too. I can feel, I can point to, even now — this past week, today — things God is using to prune me, to trim away distractions, to really focus my life. Let’s not ever forget — and I need to be reminded of this all the time — that God uses painful and unpleasant things to prune us.
“You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.” ~Hebrews 12:5-7
What’s keeping you from bearing fruit? What is it in your life that’s distracting you or gets in the way of producing righteous fruit? Now, how is the gardener working, today, to prune it away?
Our trials and tough times need to always be appreciated as part of God’s pruning process. Pruning is the gardener’s job. And we need it. We don’t ignore it or curse it. And we shouldn’t be surprised by it. We grow from it.
John Bunyan wrote: “There are those that grow ill and well again like beasts, learning nothing from it.”
Let’s not let that be us. Submit to God’s pruning. And learn and grow. It’s a sure sign that God has accepted you and is actively working to transform you more into the image of his Son.
We’re into the linebackers now as our countdown to Cowboys season heads into the 50s. There are 59 days left until the Cowboys kick off their historic 50th NFL season. And our Red Ribbon Review honors the second-best players in Cowboys history according to jersey number.
Today’s #59 is the first Vietnamese-American to ever play in the NFL, Aggies linebacker Dat Nguyen. Highly decorated in the Big XII and across the nation — he still holds the A&M record for career tackles at 517 — Nguyen was still considered too small to be an impact player in the pros. So he slipped all the way to the third round where the Cowboys selected him in 1999. Nguyen led the Cowboys in special team tackles that rookie year. And by the middle of his second season, he had become the starter at middle linebacker.
A variety of injuries, mainly a neck injury in 2005, forced his retirement after just seven seasons. But Nguyen wound up with 665 total tackles and seven interceptions for his Cowboys career, including 172 stops in 2001, the second-highest season total in team history. His hustle and determination and huge smile made him a fan favorite. His work ethic and brains have made him a current Cowboys assistant coach. (His involvement in Michael Irvin’s “Fourth and Long” causes me to question his brains. And the advice he’s getting from counselors.)
I was there in the Dome, on the sidelines in St. Louis as a sports talk show host at WHBQ in Memphis, when Dat’s Aggies came from 17 down to beat K-State in double OT for the Big XII Championship. And I was hosting a morning show on KTUB in Wichita Falls by the summer of ’99 when Dat made his Cowboys debut there at training camp at Midwestern State. Super nice guy. And the second-best #59 in Cowboys history.