October 28, 2019

Nail Trims and Tree Pruning - Bruce Atchison

No matter how I petted and soothed my rabbit Deborah, she still hated having her claws clipped. As I held her back against my chest so she couldn't squirm and possibly break her back, a friend trimmed each nail. But my "frowny-faced" bunny still acted like I was being cruel to her. And once the task was done, she hopped into her cardboard box house and sulked for a few hours.

Just as God puts us through tests which strengthen our faith, so pet owners need to have veterinarian procedures done to their furry or feathered friends for their own good. To our pets, we seem to be tormenting them. Animals live in the moment so those few minutes of torture feel like betrayal of their trust.

Jesus likened the tests and discipline of the Lord to tree care in John 15:1-3. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) states it this way. "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit. You are clean, even now, through the teaching which I have given you."

But what about when we are chastised by the Lord? Our heavenly Father always corrects us for our long-term benefit and his glory. Hebrews 12:5-7 (BBE) says, "And you have not kept in mind the word which says to you as to sons, 'My son, do not make little of the Lord's punishment, and do not give up hope when you are judged by him;' For the Lord sends punishment on his loved ones; everyone whom he takes as his son has experience of his rod. It is for your training that you undergo these things; God is acting to you as a father does to his sons; for what son does not have punishment from his father?"

There are occasions when we experience testing through the cruelty of our enemies. This too is to build up our trust in God. As James 1:2-4 (BBE) phrases it, "Let it be all joy to you, my brothers, when you undergo tests of every sort; Because you have the knowledge that the testing of your faith gives you the power of going on in hope; But let this power have its full effect, so that you may be made complete, needing nothing."

So even though things seem to be going sideways in our lives, it's because the Father is working to perfect us. He's not being mean, thoughtless, or uncaring when we face apparent setbacks. Instead of sulking or fuming, we must remind ourselves that the end of sanctifying us justifies the means of trials.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful object lesson, Bruce. We are often like those bunnies - so caught up in the moment that we can't see eternity!

  2. Thanks for this story, Bruce. Your Deborah who didn't like her nails to be clipped, and Jesus' metaphor of us being pruned like branches of a vine (or apple tree), are illustrations of how God's discipline is often difficult. But I'm often reminded of Hebrews 12:11, "(God's discipline) produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

  3. It’s so true how at the moment we don’t like the discipline. It does feel like a betrayal like you said.

  4. Well said, Bruce. You have stated it correctly when you say, "Our heavenly Father always corrects us for our long-term benefit and his glory.” Like Deborah, we eventually get over our pain, discomfort and sulking and accept that what we went through was for our own good. Maybe your pet doesn’t understand quite as clearly as that, but she can hop around much better after a good trimming. :-) Thanks, Bruce.


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