God, the Gardener
“Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.””
Genesis 17:9-14 NIV
““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.”
John 15:1-2 NIV
Circumcise (verb): to cut off foreskin of a male; Prune (verb): to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth. As I was studying these scriptures, they spoke so deeply to me.
God is in the business of cutting!
Sarah told Abraham to allow their servant Hagar to have a son for him. She wanted to “help” God. (That’s a lesson in itself! God doesn’t need your help!) You ever chose something or did something, thinking it was what God wanted, all to find out it was your impatience, not your God? Sarah made a mess of things because she was impatient. Once Isaac was born, and the women started to have issues, Sarah told Abraham to put Hagar and Ishmael out. And guess what? God agreed. He told Abraham, “listen to Sarah” (Genesis 21:12).
Now, put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. This is his son! Can you imagine how much pain he must’ve been feeling when his wife said this and God co-signed it? Not to mention, God has already told him that he and his sons must be circumcised to be in covenant with Him. Ouch!
What do you do when you prayed, fasted, and waited for something, got it, then God says it has to go? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there, and it’s one of the hardest decisions you will ever make!
It’s also one of the most necessary.
This is what makes discipleship particularly difficult at times. Cutting is painful, yet our Christian journey is a constant submission to it. Both Genesis and John are teaching us that no one escapes God’s knife!
All male descendants had to be cut in order to be in covenant with God. Ishmael had to be cut from Abraham in order for him to properly raise the promise, Isaac. Sometimes, God has to do the same in our lives. That breakup isn’t satan, it’s God’s cutting. That repossession is God’s cutting. That lay off is God’s cutting. That failed home buying deal? Yep! God’s cutting!
There are times when God takes out His shears and He makes cuts. It’s our job to let Him. Don’t go chasing after it or refuse to let go of it. How will you ever receive your Isaac?
Side note to singles: so many times we think because we let the person go or they let us go, one of us won’t get blessed. This is especially true for women. It’s like we find ourselves helping a man spiritually and think if we remove ourselves, he’s losing his opportunity to transform in God. That’s so far from the truth! God blessed both Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael went on to have 12 sons, while Isaac had two.
God did not forsake Ishmael!
It’s no coincidence that the Bible makes many agricultural references. The purpose of pruning is to selectively remove unwanted branches, improve the tree’s structure, and promote new, healthy growth. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
Who wants to be new? Will you submit to the pruning?