This tree, ya’ll. I hate it. It has been a thorn in my flesh (literally!) for years. It’s prickly. It’s huge and it’s planted on a slope so no matter how big my ladder I can never reach the top to trim it without being punctured a million times. I mean little bloody places on my arms, ya’ll.

So it had gotten waaaay out of control. There were sucker shoots and the tree had grown onto the house because I was in denial. I didn’t want to touch that thing with a ten foot pole.

I came home from exercising today and when I drove into the drive way there it was. Just ugly. Prickly. On my nerves. I had to do something.

I got out the ladder and the clippers. I started looking at the tree and I realized that maybe if I stood back a bit, started trimming before I got on the ladder that maybe I could get in under control. I just stood there looking at the hateful thing and thinking about how I just didn’t want to fool with it, but it was there. It was a sight and it needed some attention.

Things started looking a little better. I started trimming and while branches fell to the ground, and pricklies were making places on my arms I was actually making a little progress.

There’s one section of the tree that has no prickly branches because it faces our house. It is towards the back of the tree and as I made my way around the back of the tree a sudden little wind blew and rustled the branches. It caused me to look up and when I did I noticed that basically the branches made a nest of sorts. All around the trunk of the tree were no prickly leaves, only branches that reached out towards the sun almost like a protection for the heart of the tree. Standing there at the base the breeze continued to blow and it was so peaceful for a minute. No prickles.

Now I don’t know about you, but God sure does speak to me at some weird times. In the shower. When I’m cleaning out closets (the birth of the clothes closet) and, apparently, when I’m trimming hateful bushes.

Here’s what I heard.

“You know those prickly people in your life? You know the ones that you sometimes steer clear of because they are so prickly and messy? You know those situations that come up that you think are too hard? Well, sometimes those are just hurt people with branches full of prickly leaves that are protecting their hearts from pain. They really don’t know how to deal and so they just grow more and more prickly. I bet if you started… just started… with them you’d make some progress and get to the place where you might be able to help make a difference. This tree can use some pruning and ignoring it has just made it worse. Maybe that’s the case with those situations, too.”

UGHHHHH! I don’t want to hear THAT! It’s too hard. THEY are too hard.

Well, anytime God speaks to my heart through situations like that, whether I want to hear them or not, I can’t get them off of my mind. I am positive that the Lord is going to bring a situation to my heart that needs to be addressed and THEN?? I’m going to have to obey. It’s not an option.

The thing is that every time I try to approach those prickly people it almost always seems to not go well. I know for sure that I won’t be able to do it on my own and only the Lord knows their true hearts and situations. He alone can make all things new and give me the words and wisdom to help make things right. I think the thing to do for now is to start praying for these situations before I even begin to approach them. His plans are perfect and His ways are right. He can show me how to navigate the hardest of situations and how to love in the midst of it.

I can promise you that if I try to go it alone… well, I’m just going to walk away with bloody pricks again!

“I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5


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