I would love to share this at our wedding. I had planned to . . . but I am afraid that emotions will get the better of me on the day, and so I share it here. I am sorry if that feels less personal, but I don’t think I’ll be able to say it past tears on the day. I might try, we’ll see how I go 😉
Those of you who know us know that we’ve had a tough run to the altar. If we’d had it our way we would have married nearly four years ago. This of course led to a lot of questions. I think Glenn is better than I am at letting things go; I’ve been asking “Why, Lord?” from the start and haven’t been able to hold it back. Recently it suddenly hasn’t mattered anymore. Five weeks out from the wedding and I am glad our journey to the altar will soon be a completed story.
We have both tried to be faithful to God in our relationship from start to finish, even when it didn’t make sense. We’ve suffered emotionally, both gone through bouts of depressed moods, and had judgement laid at our doors. We’ve been blessed with people encouraging us, and others speaking words of caution and wisdom. We appreciated all of this. None of this answered my question though; “Why, God?” I have continued to ask.
Well, I finally got my answer. When I first started asking, God’s only answer was: “You told me I could use you any which way, didn’t you?” Hmmm, yes, I did, but not like this! After giving up the striving and letting go of the need to understand or be able to justify, I felt like He has given me an analogy to better understand. We all have different journeys to walk and different testimonies to tell. This is what I felt Him say about us:
We have been establishing a new orchard at the back of our house whilst trying to rehabilitate an old one on the side/entrance to our home. Not having grown up with fruit trees it is a learning curve.
Our old orchard was planted by Glenn’s Grandma and is about 30 years old. From the outside it looks beautiful – tall, luscious tress – but it does not produce much fruit and some of what it produced was small and a little sour. I was horrified to learn that to correct it I had to hack those tree branches right back. It needed to be cut down in height and pruned in terms of volume of branches. I felt like I was decimating it, but really I have been reviving it. Still, it is a wait and see game to whether the trees will produce a better harvest.
Our new orchard that Glenn started last year also had to be heavily pruned, but in order that we develop strong branches. Better three years of hard pruning with no fruit, then leave it be to produce inaccessible or inedible fruit.
And this was God’s answer to me – He could (1) leave us be to grow impressive in size and foliage, but produce little useful fruit for each other or outside of our marriage, or (2) He could prune us heavily as individuals so that we will be ready with a few strong branches for a bountiful harvest for His Kingdom IN marriage.
It certainly has not been an easy road. I spent two years distrustful of my ability to hear from God. It is also strange to look back on the hurt we caused each other when we now defend each other fiercely against hurt. Yet I see the good fruit God has produced in our lives and so I am grateful for our establishment seasons of pruning.
It is easy as we grow older to accumulate useless branches. We need to constantly remain open for the seasonal prunings He wishes to do in our lives, and to our hearts. If we allow Him to do it as needed then it can be small and painless, but if we let our tree grow for thirty years without pruning . . . it will hurt a lot more, and take years to be fully restored!
For us it was in the area of relationship. What area has God been pruning in your life? Or what branches do you need to let go of?
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Many of you have been praying faithfully for us in the lead up to our marriage – possibly, most of all, that we make it to the altar this time! I humbly ask that you keep praying for us after our wedding day.
In keeping with the orchard theme, God has also been speaking to me about this coming season. There is a sense of excitement in us both as we await the unraveling of our ministry as a couple. So far we have both been involved in the church, teaching, and traditional missions, but we still don’t know what this will look like together.
We are like tree branches being grafted together. We both have Christ as our central tree, which is the best of starts. We are now waiting to see what type of fruit we produce in marriage. Are we both apricots? Has He grafted a peach and a nectarine together? Or are we both plums, but of different varieties? Please pray that we will learn to complement and support each other, however our ministry unravels itself from here.
Thank you for journeying with us.