There is a pretty little park a few blocks from my house where ancient Ficus trees line the side of the road. I have never seen Ficus trees this big because in Minnesota a Ficus tree is a finicky species, out of its element, and must be treated with extreme care or it will drop all it’s leaves and die. But here, a Ficus is in its natural habitat. No wonder they grew so big.
One day I was passing by the park and saw, to my utter horror, a tree trimming crew was hard at work. They were trimming back the Ficus trees… cutting them back hard! Too hard, I thought. They cut off nearly all the branches of those majestic trees, leaving only a few spindly branches on each tree. I thought they must be cutting them all the way down. I was very, very sad and angry at the same time. Why would they cut those beautiful trees back so hard? Now those Ficus trees will surely die.
For a few months, they looked really ugly. They looked hacked and wounded, pathetic and humiliated. But photosynthesis was still happening. Month by month, those trees stared to fill out again. Bit by bit, the shade returned to the park. I asked someone about it once. He said, they cut them back so they stay sturdy otherwise they get leggy and top-heavy and could fall over in a storm. I did some internet research of my own and learned that a Ficus is actually a very resilient type of tree, if it’s in its natural environment. I was very surprised.
So one day when Taylor and I were driving home we spotted a Ficus tree dumped in a garbage heap on the side of the road. It appeared to have been a potted plant that someone had thrown out. It was about as tall as I was, with a decorative braided trunk like they do with house plants, and only one side of the tree had leaves. Even the leaves it had were brown and curled on the edges. But Taylor and I stopped and threw the thing in the trunk. We took it home and replanted it in the yard. I watered it. I fertilized it. I sprayed it with pesticide to protect it in its weakened condition. And month by month, it stared to fill out again. Bit by bit, its leaves grew back and offered a patch of shade to my yard. It was indeed a resilient plant.
Faith is like a Ficus tree. Sometimes God has to prune us hard, cutting out dead and dangerous stuff to make us sturdy and strong, healthy and resilient. Don’t resist God with you see him coming with the pruning shears. He’s not coming to cut you down, he just wants to make you stronger. When God prompts your heart to let something go, you should obey immediately. Let go. Don’t hold on to that dead past, don’t keep the life-sucking relationship when God commands you to cut it off. Let God shape and cut and prune your life and one day your shade will be a blessing to those around you.