My friend Misti invited me to go to Bible study with her tonight. “What should I bring?”, I asked her. “Yourself, your Bible, and Crayola markers” was her reply. Strange list, huh? I mean, who even needs markers at a Bible study? She then explained to me that in the Bible study, you talk about scripture then you color. You color a picture that the girl leading tells you to- not direct instructions, she just sets the framework. ‘I guess it’s always good to try something new’, I thought, inside being mildly sad that I was going to be working to stay inside the lines instead of watching Grey’s Anatomy.

She emails me the scripture yesterday, and of course, it is about LOVE, so I know I have to go. You know, my theme and all. (I could now explain the scripture to you, or just let you read it yourself. So here it is)

John 15:1-10
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

So fast forward to the art part- all the girls can talk about is the pruning process and what God cuts off of us. Me, of course, all I can think about is how He loves me and what it looks like to remain in His love. So sue me. It’s a theme thing.

Keller, the girl leading, passes out a picture of a tree she has drawn with a girl inside the trunk. She says to write/draw in green the things in your life that God has pruned (cut off so that you can bear more fruit) and then in red to write/draw the things that are blooming in your life.

My creative juices start flowing- I start coloring all these limbs green and listing all the things in my life that have been pruned this year (youth group, friendships, writing, my desires, etc.) and all of the sudden, I am overwhelmed at the pruning and I HATE my picture. All I see is the pruning that ended last month- nothing of God’s love. It breaks my heart just to read the words “youth ministry” written in black over a bright green limb.

So I put it down. I fold it in half and grab a fresh drawing of the tree. I sit for a minute and just breathe- that last picture may have just done me in.

But something looks different- I can’t tell what it is, but it looks like a different tree. And then, a word jumps out of the branches. I reach into my bin of markers (yes, I brought too many markers, freshman mistake) and pull out a red marker- actually, it’s raspberry. And it is the most beautiful shade of red I have ever seen. I start to color the letters I see in the branches. This is the finished product:


There it is- right in the midst of a very pruned tree of a girl- LOVE. And as I see it, I gasp. Six months ago, my tree was huge, full of fruit and colors and blessings. Then, God pruned me down- no leaves, no fruit, just limbs. But His purpose was for this season- He pruned my life back so that I could see the center of my being- His LOVE for me.

Yes, I am framing this picture in my room.

Lamentations 3:21-23
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great LOVE we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.

Hallelujah. God is near.