As I was reading Mark Buchanan’s book this morning, he talked about how he pruned his trees in winter. He says it is the best time to do it since the tree is half dead anyway. You can chop away at it mercilessly and it will be the better for it. A tree cuts back most of its activity in winter so its only essentially active part is in its trunk and major branches. If you cut all the lesser parts back during winter, it allows the tree to maximize production when the time is right – spring.
A decade ago, when I was pushing 50 (you know where that puts me now), I made a conscious decision to cut back a lot in my life. I realized there were a lot of dead ends in my life and that I only had so much energy and so much life left, so I decided to lose some of the weight. I really had to think about what was weighing me down. What was sapping my time and energy that really didn’t need to be there? Who should not be there? I took inventory and then I started to chop.
I joined a First Place 4 Health group at my sister’s church. It is a weight loss program that teaches you to lose a whole lot more than weight. It teaches you to be a whole person in every way. With the support of my brothers and sisters at First Place 4 Health, I lost 35 pounds and reached my goal weight in the fall of 2003. However, I kept going to First Place 4 Health for another 6 years to lose the more difficult weight. I had personality traits that were not glorifying to the Lord, I had an attitude that needed adjusting, I had human parasites in my life that needed in-depth love and concern (real help), not my lose change to get them out of my hair for the moment, etc, etc, etc.
Well, I still need pruning, but I am a lot lighter than I was a decade ago. I’m also fruitful in more God-centered endeavors. Winter, when things are dark and drear, cold and austere, is a good time to take stock of our situation. Reflection usually calls us to simplify, or, at the very least, re-prioritize. If your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight, I wish you well. Winter is the best season for pruning!