They must be thinned, and I am the one to do it.

Husband tussles with the rototiller, pushes and pulls the brute work with the tractor, yanks out weeds deep-rooted, fights with thorn bushes giant and wild. Gingerly plucking tiny threads of plants from clumps of companions doesn’t fit. Dainty. Slow, meticulous.

So I sit in the heat and finger-tweeze, thankful I’m not clinging, teeth chattering, to a gyrating tiller, or, red-faced, digging post holes or straining at huge weeds. But a certain reluctance jags at me every time I do this.

I don’t mind slow and meticulous. I just hate the choosing: which to pull and toss to die there on the path, which to favor with survival. Some that “must go,” look the best of the lot.

But all that crowding stifles growth and health and usefulness. Thin we must.

So I pluck: this wee clump, that single seedling edged right up against that other.

I admit I only half thin. I’ll have to repeat this job later, when the roots start swelling–and crowding again. But by then I can find a use for cute mini-carrots, and won’t feel so destructive.

God thins me. Repeatedly. Unflinching, He plucks this alive and pretty growing thing and that well-beloved sprout I was nurturing, till I feel sometimes stripped down to bare barren ditch, and wonder, sad and bereft. I don’t understand. Why did he take that vibrant, glowing thing, and leave this dull and small one, so useless seeming?

Then time and growth comes by, and sun and waterings, and I find I’m breathing freer. My joy has grown, not shrunk, my fruitfulness is fuller, richer, and so is my heart. Like the vine branches the Vinedresser prunes (John 15:1-2).

Thin we must. Thinned we must be. Thank You, Lord, for thinning.