You never prune the roses until they become dormant. I was not sure three or four days of cold was enough to put them in that state, but surely they were close simply because it was time, I reasoned, and the cold was not predicted to last beyond another 48 hours so my window of opportunity was small. I took my clippers and went at it, cropping the thinner, more pliable stems and leaves—including those with some new red growth from the warm weeks before—and gave them the half to two-thirds haircut they need annually. It will be an anxious few weeks before I find out if I ruined them.
Dormancy is an interesting thing. Plants, or seeds right after harvest, go to sleep. For plants it happens with adverse conditions like low temperatures, drought, or low light. In order to conserve energy, the plant stops growing and sheds softer tissues, replacing them with hard wood, scales, and dried tissues. It puts on this suit of armor to protect itself. When conditions change, warmer temperatures or enough water to live on for example, the plant wakes up and resumes its normal growth.
After mulling it over one morning I decided that is our problem. We never go dormant. I defy you to study the Word of God deeply enough, and meditate long enough to reach new insights, by taking just five minutes a day to “read a chapter.” It won’t work. But instead of finding that precious time—instead of making it—we make excuses instead. We stay too busy with life to slow down and spend quiet time with God.
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening...Gen 24:63.
I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds, Ps 77:12.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise, Ps 119:148.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer, Ps 19:14.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Phil 4:8.
And those are just a fraction of the verses that tell us we need to spend far more time with God than we do. How many times did Jesus spend all night praying? And if you have not had your prayers drift off into meditation, that may well be why you sit there thinking, “I could never pray that long.”
Look back at the advantages of dormancy. Dormancy is a period of rest for the plant. God knew we needed rest. He gave His people a day no other culture had, the Sabbath. When everyone else was working dawn to dusk just to survive in an ancient world, He took care of their basic survival that day (as when the manna did not spoil) so they could rest, so they could spend time with family and with Him.
Dormancy provides the plant with “a suit of armor,” protection during adverse conditions. If you wait until the crisis arises to consider your actions, you will invariably make poor decisions. Time to think ahead, recognizing your weaknesses and planning your “way of escape,” can be critical to your spiritual survival. Meditation will give you that time to prepare yourself.
Dormancy gives the plant “anesthesia” for the painful tasks of pruning and grafting. Looking at yourself in the mirror is hard enough without being forced to in the middle of a spiritual emergency. Time alone to carefully consider and face your challenges can make the difference in whether you make the changes you need to or not. In the face of rebuke, too many of us consider it too painful to even consider the notion that we might need a little pruning of the character to please God.
And then there is the greatest benefit of all: time to develop a relationship with your Creator. I knew a young couple that broke off their engagement after realizing that they had absolutely nothing to talk about. A wise young couple, I think. If you haven’t spent enough time in His Word to have anything to talk to God about, don’t be surprised if He doesn’t break it off with you.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land— Selah, Ps 143:5-6.