There was a tree intertwined in the fence next to a narrow path between Sweet Apple, where we live, and the little cemetery next door. The tree looked angry and was starting to engulf the path and break the fence. As my husband cut away at the branches and we loaded them into the trailer, the pile just kept getting bigger and bigger, and the tree seemed to be more and more intertwined into the fence than we ever could have imagined. We couldn’t saw it from the bottom, and it had grown for too long to unweave it. We could not set it free. It occurred to me that for that tree to come loose from the fence, it would have to die to itself. It would have to die to be set free. It would have to die to its will to live on its own, weaved viciously through the fence, and once it died and the pieces of wood rotted away, we could help it pull away from the chain link that was hurting it so. As we cut away at the branches, they made a massive mess of a pile. Because they were newly cut, the branches wouldn’t burn. So we moved them to the side…it wasn’t their time yet. We tried to burn some others, and none of them were ready, so we will wait and try again. It made me think of how, when I decided to die to my own plans and follow my God, certain things took time. It wasn’t a decision that was a light switch for me. It took years, and God is still in the process of refining my life. It was frustrating to me as I tried to leave myself behind in pursuit of my God. As I would “try” to create habits they just wouldn’t stick. It took years…yet just as we will wait on this messy pile, God waited on my stubborn, weak heart. He is patient with me and kind to me, and He refines little parts of me each day, helping me to see more clearly and follow Him more relentlessly. Someday that tree hooked into the fence will be set free and someday my heart will be too. But, until then, little by little I will seek His face, read His Word and plead with Him in prayer, asking for more and more understanding of how life in Him works. The free life isn’t found in an instant, but in little refinements every day. Don’t miss them. Seek and find, my friend. This is the life you never knew you always wanted.