Plowing and Pruning

A WOMAN whose way had been beset by many human difficulties, in spite of earnest efforts to follow after righteousness, said in a despairing moment to a Christian Science friend: "Just when I think I am gaining a knowledge of Truth, something seems to happen to bowl me over. I feel as if I was being pruned to the limit, and sometimes when I see the farmers plowing their fields, I wonder if the same process is not taking place in me." Her friend answered, "Well, it may be that God purposes a crop."

On page 66 of Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, who probably was familiar with various methods of plowing and pruning, writes that "trials are proofs of God's care." This statement is often puzzling to beginners in the application of Christian Science teachings—very likely because they have a sense of love as something that is indulgent, glossing over mistakes and endeavoring to make things easy. This human sense of love is often unwise, because it is apt to make for weakness rather than strength. Not so is the love thus described by the writer of Hebrews: "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth;" and again, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." In fact, the entire twelfth chapter of Hebrews gives strong counsel as to the wisdom of surrender to the will and way of God, counting material sacrifices as naught.

The process of trimming and eliminating might well be called a preparing, educating, and training for whatever of usefulness may lie beyond. Many helpful lessons are typified by the culture of the grapevine. After it has come to the point of richness in fruit and foliage, it is stripped bare of its crowning glory, and then, having given of its fruit, the grapevine is pruned back. Its growth was for the one purpose of giving: not even a grapevine lives to itself. Once more it adjusts itself to its continued task of fruition, for, later, tiny new shoots appear, and again the vine goes on expressing growth, as though nothing had happened. Steadily, faithfully, it goes forward, bringing forth more and better fruit because of the pruning.

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October 15, 1932

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