by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Ever had someone you put on a pedestal let you down? Yeah, me too. But God, in His mercy and grace, has used these hurts to help connect some scriptural dots that needed connecting.
Bottom line is, we cannot count on people. I know that sounds crass, but hear me out. Isaiah 2:22 says “Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” You see, we are designed to worship, but we are often foolish about what we worship. We are prone to put people above God, and place our hope in them. We do it with celebrities, loved ones, and ministry leaders. Then, when one of our idols fall, we are offended and shaken. How do I know? I’ve done it. Repeatedly. It never goes well.
But we are warned because Jesus taught about pruning. He said in John 15:2 that God lovingly prunes unproductive branches off our lives. I think those are our “sucker branches.” A sucker branch “occurs when, under stress or after injury, a tree attempts to grow an unproductive branch” (gardeningknowhow.com). These branches are destructive to the tree’s growth and must be pruned.
Isn’t that interesting, since the Bible often refers to us, believers, as trees. Like real trees, we also have a tendency, especially under stress, to try to grow things that are harmful to our well-being. Such as a dependency on someone other than Jesus. These relationships must be pruned. They don’t necessarily need to be removed, but our hero worship has to be eliminated. That often requires a painful letdown. Being pruned hurts, but it does not harm us. It is for our good.
Here is where we differ from trees. After a tree is pruned, it does not hold a grudge against the sucker branch. It does not feel let down, build walls around its heart, or trash talk the branch that was just cut off. The injury heals, and it thrives. Fruit follows the pruning. If another sucker branch grows, this too will get pruned, and the tree will flourish. I think we could learn a lot from trees.
This is what I have figured out from my current pruning. Those branches/people did not mean to let me down. Even if they did, I do not have the right to hold it against them. Why? Because I, too, have been someone’s sucker branch that had to be pruned. I didn’t want to disappoint them. Indeed, I wanted to be their hero. But eventually, my being human got in the way, and I let them down. Then it was sayonara, sucker! I was pruned. That’s okay, I am now relieved. Through this process, I have learned that being someone’s hero is exhausting. I prefer now to point them to Jesus. He’s the only hero that never disappoints. So go ahead, put Him on your pedestal. That’s our safe dependency. Let our Heavenly Gardner prune neediness on others from our lives. Now, repeat after me, “So long, sucker!”