One of the ways my wife blessed me during my recovery was to buy me a bonsai tree. I have wanted one since I saw the movie: “Karate Kid 3”. In that movie Daniel and Mr. Miyagi open a bonsai tree store after Daniel uses his college money to purchase the shop. Inevitably, the bad guys want revenge on Daniel because his win at the tournament caused the demise of Cobra Kai martial arts school. Mr. Miyagi won’t train Daniel because he felt that defending that title would only be for personal gain. The bad guys up the pressure on Daniel and his teacher by demolishing the bonsai tree store and putting up a tournament registration form in its place. Daniel decides, with the help of his love interest, to go get Mr. Miyagi’s family bonsai tree which is down a ravine called Devil’s Cauldron (ooh, how ominous). As Daniel and Jessica are down in the cauldron retrieving the family bonsai, the antagonists show up and take away the ropes sending down the tournament form instead. Daniel is forced to sign it and the ropes are then lowered. Aha, but when Daniel and Jessica get to the top, the mean boys take away Miyagi’s family bonsai and tear the trunk down the middle; thus crushing Daniel’s spirit and extinguishing the hope of reviving their bonsai store again.
Wow, what drama, what intense moral platitudes this movie is trying to convey, well, for the 80’s that is. I won’t go into the plot of the rest of the movie, because I want to stay on topic for this post. So, you will have to rent the movie if your curiosity has been sparked.
I was drawn instantly by the care and love of Mr.Miyagi that he lavishly places on each tree. He shapes them, prunes them, gives them indirect sunlight and nourishes them with just enough food and water.
Since I was a child I have always wanted to acquire the gentle spirit to care for just such a helpless thing. A mission to represent the caretaker, the one who serves and guides something from genesis to fruition. So, when I received my bonsai shortly after I came home from the hospital; I was very excited.
This gift, gave me a chance to show the art of nurturing through careful treatment, and achieving the best placement of all the limbs to let it shine forth its beauty. I quickly ran to my local Barnes and Noble to get educated on how to get the best results of my little tree newly given to me. After pouring over that book, I learned that I had an outdoor bonsai. It required a little more care than the indoor ones and the placement of it outdoors was important to its proper growth and care.
All over the internet I have seen some amazing pictures of other’s bonsai and the incredible shaping that people have done to get the results they wanted from their treasured plant. I found it to be very difficult to make mine resemble the success that others have had. I discovered, that I might be the “black thumb” of gardening.
As I was entertaining my cultivational deficiencies, I was thankful that God never gives up on us; how, He keeps at it even though we don’t often understand what He is faithfully doing on our behalf (Philippians 1:6). Sometimes, we shoot off in an area of our lives that can be disfiguring (to our spiritual well-being); just like an untrimmed offshoot. We get in the way of God and the work He is doing in us. Therefore, because He loves us so much, that offshoot, gets pruned and it falls to the ground. Pruning, metaphorically, hurts; but, it should remind us of God’s love and great care He has for our lives. God wants us to abide in Him. If we are outside of that, we will not bear fruit. Thus, trees that do not bear fruit, their branches are cut down after they wither.
I know that bonsai trees do not bear fruit, traditionally. But, it can be said that the fruit of a bonsai tree is the beauty of its shape. A form that makes a solitary stand in a violent world; one that radiates the beauty of the Maker and shines forth like a blessing of His care that He has for us all.
If that bonsai of mine doesn’t receive frequent, careful pruning and direction, if it is allowed to grow its wild-way; then it won’t testify of the caretaker’s hand and ultimately won’t stand the test of time as well.
God’s word speaks of His care for our little bonsai trees and our need to abide in Him in John 15:1-4. It says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
As God’s people, we should want to bear fruit, because it testifies of the greatness of God and how He totally transforms lives for His glory. We should be in a constant place of abiding in God’s will and letting Him shine through the placement of the “branches” and “fruit” of our lives. Thus, giving an example, to the unbelieving world, of the life-changing power of Christ to all who will abide in His truth.
At the end of Karate Kid 3, all is not lost because Mr. Miyagi’s skill as a “vinedresser” is great and he is ultimately able to restore the family bonsai to its glory and radiance because it was placed back into the master’s care.
If you are lost, and out of the Master’s care – Please fall to your knees and ask for forgiveness. Call out to your vinedresser and experience the pruning of a caring Lord who wants you to produce fruit, season after season; and in a way that reflects the glory of the Lord.
The Great Plains Poet, no longer afraid of pruning, looking at His fruit that ripens year after year.
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Bending Towards The Vinedresser’s Hand
by Chris T.
These branches have withered some.
Days have passed and years have gone by.
I tried to grow tall and stretch out my limbs,
But no longer do I bear the fruit of my youth.
I gave all my strength, to my effort and cause.
Making sure I gained all the wisdom that I could muster.
This direction, this off-shoot seemed so sure, so beneficial,
But, nothing has been gained and now my branch has been lost.
My eyes have seen the vinedresser from far off,
Though, I have bristled when he has approached.
I wanted to show him my will to succeed.
But it only magnified the means to my end.
Others seem to bear much fruit, so beautiful to the eye,
They seem to flourish under the care of the vinedresser’s love.
Now I am an old tree with few branches and few seasons left to grow.
Maybe I’ll start to trust the touch of His gentle care.
Oh, come to me, my Savior with thy Holy Hand.
Give unto me the courage to lay down my plan.
Snip off the wild offshoots that I tried to grow,
And touch within my being the care that you know.
For though it stings a little for a pruning right and sure.
And for a season some limbs might need a trim, and my heart may endure,
To watch my own efforts be cast into the fire,
But change within my shape the Lord’s true desire.
Now I must abide within the vinedresser’s care.
Worry not myself about the tending of my affair.
Bending to the shape of the Master’s will
To produce a luscious fruit that begets such a thrill.