Sunday, June 10, 2012
Pruning and Growth
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
At the beginning of the dwarves' incarceration at the hands of the Wood-elves, Bilbo is unsure of his ability to rescue them and longs for the help, or at least the advice, of the wizard Gandalf. However, "he soon realized that if anything was to be done, it would have to be done by Mr. Baggins, alone and unaided." And indeed, the hobbit is eventually able to put together a successful plan to rescue his companions.
Wearing his ring to stay invisible, Bilbo watches and waits and explores until he finally sees a possible solution to their plight. He then he creeps from cell to cell in the elves' dungeon, spreading the word to his incarcerated companions. Tolkien tells us that "the other dwarves quite agreed when they got the message….they all trusted Bilbo. Just what Gandalf had said would happen, you see. Perhaps that was part of his reason for going off and leaving them."
Just like many plants bear more fruit when they are pruned, people often grow more in hard times and through difficult situations. Gandalf knew that Bilbo would never step up and reach his full potential as a burglar and trusted traveling companion if he was always there to rescue them and get them out of sticky situations, and I believe God is the same. I think that sometimes we need to look for his answers through the gifts, spiritual and otherwise, that he has already given us, instead of waiting for things to magically change without any effort on our part. If sometimes God feels absent, maybe he has just stepped back in order to teach us faith and trust – perhaps sometimes that's his way of pruning away the old fears and insecurities that keep us from reaching our full potential. It's not pleasant, but it's the only way that we'll grow.