Thursday, May 2, 2019

After the Storm

This morning while I was eating breakfast, I glanced out the window and saw the old lilac bush at the edge of our lot weighted down with lush blossoms. The bush was already old when we moved here twelve years ago, and I have never seen it bloom with so many flowers. What was different this year?

Macroburst in Hudson Valley last May
Then I remembered that the middle of last May the storm of the century had exploded upon us  The Hudson Valley and especially our area had been hit by a macroburst that generated winds of at least 110 miles per hour on the ground.

A macroburst is an outward burst of strong winds at or near the surface with horizontal dimensions larger than 2.5 miles and occurs when a strong downdraft in a severe thunderstorm reaches the surface. (If the diameter is less than 2.5 miles, the downburst is a microburst.) High winds hit the ground and burst out in a all directions.

Our mobile home park took the full brunt of the storm, which also generated several tornadoes up and down the river. Many trees toppled on homes causing much costly damage. In fact, entire tree-covered hillsides are still littered with uprooted and fallen trees that became even more noticeable after the leaves fell off last fall and snow highlighted each one. With the arrival of spring, new life is camouflaging the damage.

That storm nearly destroyed our lilac bush. Because damaged branches hung over the street. the park manager pruned out many torn or fractured limbs. I wondered if the bush would recover.

Today, out of curiosity, I looked up how to prune lilac bushes. Knowing when to trim lilac bushes is important, I learned. In fact, the best time to prune is right after their flowering has ceased. This allows new shoots plenty of time to develop the next season's blooms. If pruned too late, you can kill the developing buds.

Last year's storm had hit at exactly the right time to prune lilac bushes!

Storms are God's way of pruning His green earth. The Bible uses the figure of pruning to teach us a valuable lesson:

In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul compares God's people to a vineyard. God is the husbandman. He wants His people to bear fruit, so He prunes the vines (believers in Christ) to help us be more fruitful. Hebrews 12:6 points out that God disciplines every one He loves. John 15: 2 says that if a branch does not bear fruit, He "takes it away." This word in the Greek  means "to raise up, elevate, lift up." In the first century, when a plant wasn't producing fruit, the vinedresser would lift it up so it could get more sunlight.

Even the branches that bear fruit are pruned so they may be even more fruitful. We need God's help to grow even more in Him. God uses the storms and hardships in our lives to grow us, to help us become more like Him.

That's why we can say that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, NKJV). People often forget to read the next verse which explains how all things work together for good--that we might be "conformed to the image of  His Son," Jesus Christ.

Pruning is not pleasant. It hurts. But it is for our betterment.

Are you going through a difficulty right now? Be encouraged. Allow God to make you more like Jesus through this time of pruning.

Books by AnnaLee Conti

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