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  • Pamela Mattox

Barren Places

Updated: Jan 3


It was a year of pruning. Regardless of what was happening on the world’s stage — on the heels of a year where I had felt more cared for by God than at any other point in my life — 2020 made way for Him to cut back and cut off those things no longer beneficial in my Christian walk and pursuit of Him. I stepped into January with fresh courage and newfound holy confidence, ready to walk out a new assignment God had given me, only to be met with limitations at winters end, and the Father’s pruning shears in the summertime.


In the course of two months He graciously snipped away an unhealthy mindset,

meaningful relationships, and directed me to give up responsibilities He no longer wanted me to carry. Such a significant shearing has left me feeling like a barren tree in winter for the last few months.


The Lord’s divine whittling away will no doubt make more room for the new dreams, assignments and passions He has given me. It makes room for me to be more singleminded and focused on the tasks at hand. And yet grief over such losses still lingers some days.


When it does, the Father gently reminds me He sees what I cannot see, and what may feel like loss in the moment is actually His protection in the long run. All-knowing, He determined my life would be more useful in His hands without certain people and things in the next season He has for me.

He gives and takes away to fulfill His purposes, not my pleasures.

Because I am called to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), I must be diligent and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I cannot dwell on that which is now counted loss and if hope to press on and make spiritual gains. I must dwell on Jesus instead.


He forewarned us of this process in His Word saying, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). Therefore pruning is a necessary process in the life of the believer that wants to flourish in Christ. Both hard and healthy, it causes grief and then exponential growth. We cannot expect to grow and bear good fruit if our limbs are dried up and our foliage is overgrown and full of weeds. His kingdom purpose is to cut back in order to ready His child for new growth and a greater harvest in His name.


In this barren season I have been reminded afresh:


People were never meant to meet my deepest needs. Faulty theology leads to frustration versus freedom. Idols cloud my view of the one true God.


When those things got mixed up, the Father found it necessary to step in and expose them. You see, it is through our suffering that we tend to see God and our sinful selves more clearly. By removing branches and trimming away both dying and thriving foliage, laying it on the ground in a heap, I was able to see the dry rot and disease more clearly. Trimming what was no longer useful away from the vine, as well as some of what was good and healthy, the Father made room for new growth and sweeter, more abundant fruit when the springtime comes.

Father God, because Your Word commands me to give thanks in all circumstances, I choose to thank You for cutting away that which was unnecessarily weighing me down. Thank You for exposing what was unhealthy, and stripping away the good in order to make way for better fruit bearing going forward. Thank You for always having my best interest at heart. As I step into a new season, I pray this pruning will bear witness to new growth, a healthier harvest, and a life that flourishes in You and the things You call me to, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

RECLAIM YOUR HEART


Thank You for stripping away ________ in 2020. Though it hurt and I count it loss, I trust You to use it for my good and Your glory because nothing You do is without purpose. What does my heart need to know from You today?


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