A couple of months ago we had some plumbing problems. A gasket connecting two sections of pipe just outside the house had failed, causing the sections to separate and the plumbing to back up into the toilets and tubs.
In the process of fixing the problem, a bush outside Olivia’s window had to be uprooted. The bush was rather unceremoniously tossed in the yard until something could be done with it. All of this occurred close to the beginning of our numerous days of rain and thunderstorms, so as the bush sat exposed, it also was continually watered. The roots couldn’t get soil nourishment, but they definitely stayed moist.
About a week later we were taking advantage of a rare non-rainy day to get some yard work done. As we debated what we should do with the bush, Doug suggested we try to replant it. I admit – I was very skeptical. But, he argued that the worst to happen would be that it would die and we’d have to dig it back up again. So, I found a new spot at one corner of the house and replanted the bush.
As the weeks have passed I honestly haven’t paid much attention to the bush. There have just been too many other things going on. But, yesterday evening while Doug and I were out watering trees and the garden, I thought to peek at the bush as well. What I found was fascinating, at least to this plant-ignorant gal.
Most of the original branches on the bush had, indeed, died. But, the bush itself was still very much alive. The evidence was seen in the brand new branches. Yes, scattered across the bush, protruding between and around the old dead branches were new, green branches, fresh with new leaves.
Hoping to give the new growth a little more room, I snapped away some of the dead branches and brushed out the old leaves. I can’t do much to shape and form it right now – that will have to wait until I can prune it this winter. But, I did what I could for now to remove the dead without bringing harm to the living.
When I replanted the bush, my hope was that the old branches would revive. I never dreamed new would grow. But, as I think about it all, I realize that our lives are much like that bush.
When we are made new in Christ, we often try to revive our old branches with this new life. What if we were to be more like that bush and totally put aside the old? All our old talents and interests. All our old strengths and passions. What if we were to let all of them just die? I wonder how much more profound our new growth would be.
When I was in high school I was introduced to the music of Petra and became a huge fan. Later I heard the story of their second lead singer John Schlitt. Formerly the lead singer of a secular band, Schlitt gave up his music career when he became a Christian. Five years later God gave it back to him in an entirely new way when Petra founder Bob Hartman gave him a call.
The old branches died. Only then were new ones able to grow.
To really let those old branches die, we have to surrender them as if they’re gone forever. We have to walk away from desires, dreams, passions, interests, and even the talents that seem an integral part of who we are. Maybe that’s why so few of us truly succeed in letting our sinful selves die. We just don’t want to let go of those old branches.
But, when we do let go, an amazingly beautiful thing happens – new branches grow. Sometimes, like in John Schlitt’s case, our dreams are given back to us. Other times, however, God sends us in completely new directions, instilling in us passions we never would have dreamed of while still clinging to our old interests. Either way, the new branches are stronger, more amazing, and more beautiful than anything the old could ever have produced.
What old branches are you clinging to? What leaves are you trying in vain to coax life back into? I encourage you to let go. Release them and get them out of the way. Once you see the new branches God has in store for you, you will never experience one moment of regret over the death of the old.