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Open Hands, Willing HeartSample

Open Hands, Willing Heart

DAY 5 OF 5

The Blessing of Surrender

I’ve been convicted lately of how often my motive for doing nice things for others is driven by my desire to sidestep anger and disappointment. I do those nice things to manipulate and control rather than to truly love. Sometimes God has to prune me to rid me of my shortcomings. 

Some of the severest pruning I have experienced came soon after I hit the milestone when all three of my children attended school all day. New opportunities for ministry opened up for me: I began pursuing a seminary degree, joined a national executive ministry team, and started speaking at more women’s events. Life felt fruitful and abundant. Then I received the call no one wants: “You have cancer.” 

The pruning away of new and meaningful ministry and schooling felt so unfair. I thought I had patiently waited for the right time to engage, and I thought my contributions to kingdom building were useful, helpful, and purposeful. Yet when I look back, I see those years of battling cancer and wandering in the postcancer wilderness as the very things God used to bring about even greater ministry I would not have otherwise known. 

Though submitting to the process of pruning requires faith, we can trust the expert hands of the skilled Vinedresser. Though we may not fully understand His ways, His motives are not to harm but to produce in us health and growth. Our Father sees the end from the beginning and knows the right time and the correct season in which to prune us for His good purposes. We would be foolish to compare our pruning process with anyone else’s. God is at work in different ways in the lives of all people. No cookie-cutter process exists for becoming more like Jesus. Our yes to His skillful, loving hand in our lives yields untold possibilities. 

I’ve needed to keep these truths front and center. Though pruning and weeding take place for our good, at the time the process stinks. But lasting growth and maturity require that the expert hands of the Vinedresser shape us. The blessing of abiding is not so much the fruit and the by-products but the joy of deeper intimacy with Jesus, the Vine. He is the blessing. 

Describe a time when God pruned you to help you grow. In what ways did you need to surrender to that pruning?


Day 4

About this Plan

Open Hands, Willing Heart

Following Jesus isn’t a decision to obey rules but a decision to live in relationship with Him, surrendered to His will. For the next five days, we’ll look at what it means to live out that posture of surrender. Because ...


We would like to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for providing this plan. For more information, please visit:

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