“That tree is going to look bad all season,” I commented to my wife, Melanie, a few weeks ago as we left the house. The tree is right outside our front door. I kept intending to prune it during the winter, but neglected the job all season. A few days ago, I noticed new, green growth on the tree. But the old, ugly, dead pods from last year were still clinging to the limbs.
Yesterday as we backed out of our driveway, I noticed the tree again. In a few short weeks, an amazing transformation had taken place. Most of the dead pods are gone now, lying on the ground beneath its limbs. New growth fills most of the tree, reaching out to the tips of the branches where blossoms will soon appear.
As I looked at the transformation that occurred, the thought came to me: That’s exactly what happens in the life of the Christian! When we trust Christ to save us, He places His divine life into us at that very moment. Although we have His new life, the old flesh patterns of our past life are still clinging to us. They are ugly and obviously dead. But they are there nonetheless.
However, as we begin to grow in grace, a transformation takes place in our lives. The life of Christ surging through us begins to fill us to such an extent that the old fleshly behavior begins to drop away. The ugly remnants of a season gone by are eliminated one by one as New Life fills us.
Jesus once said, “I am the vine and you are the branches” (John 15:5). As we abide in Him, we will discover that it isn’t necessary to try to prune our own life of the ugly things that still are holding on to us. We are simply to trust Him and, because we are rooted and grounded in the love of the Father, the remnants of the old life lose their grip and fall away. Ultimately, His life will fill the branches of our behavior.
As surely as the seasons change, our heavenly Father will finish the job He has started in us. We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (see Romans 8:29) and nothing, not even dead pods from our old life, will stop His work in us. God always finishes what He starts. (Faithful is He who calls you; and He will also bring it to pass – 1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Do you see ugly things still in your life? Let your roots grow deep in His grace and watch the transformation. His grace really is sufficient!