Monday, May 11, 2015

Weeding: Good for the Garden and the Soul

Weeds have overtaken our planting beds. Just a few weeks ago, our landscaper had 3 guys come out and remove the weeds from all of the beds. But they came back – and fast!

Since I couldn’t think of a single excuse as to why I couldn’t tackle the problem myself this time (and believe me, I tried), I spent several hours pulling weeds last week. It’s a pretty meditative activity; it doesn’t involve any real brain power. So I had time to think.

In order to completely remove a weed so it will never return, you have to pull out all of the roots. We all know it; it’s just not something we look forward to doing. It takes patience and gentleness and ruthlessness. You have to take the weeds one at a time, and gently and slowly pull out the weed, removing the entire plant roots and all. Don’t pull too quickly, or you don’t get the whole thing. Then you have to discard it where those sneaky little roots can’t once again take hold in your yard. If you just toss it back in the bed or onto the lawn, it might find new life and become a problem again.

It occurred to me that negative things in our lives are like that. Bad habits, weaknesses, sins, etc., are like weeds in our souls; if we don’t remove them completely, they will grow back. If we aren’t diligent to keep them under control, they can take over to such an extent that it seems impossible to remove them.

We can be impatient and yank them up or spray them in a hurry. That will remove the visible parts and make the yard look better for a few days. But very soon, the same weeds will just be right back in the same places. No real progress is made, just a temporary cleanup to keep up with the neighbors.

Likewise, we can clean up our personal acts temporarily. If we have a bad habit or sin we don’t want people to know about, we can hide it, sometimes even convincing ourselves. We can remove all evidence so that no one even knows it’s there. For a while.

Eventually, either that issue or something else will pop up in its place. We have to find the root and patiently and gently, but ruthlessly, pull it all out. We have to search our hearts to find out why they are such nice places for those “weeds” to grow. It’s an individual thing.

For me, weed removal and prevention only come with Bible study, prayer, and close friendships with other like-minded people. Scripture is God’s recorded word. It is what most often reveals His truth to me. Through prayer, I can have a relationship with Him. I can praise, complain, rant, plead, confess, wonder, ask, thank, demand and share. Probably more importantly, I can listen. Through scripture and prayer, God’s Holy Spirit can impress His truth on my soul. Really. God chooses to speak to me if I am willing to listen. His Spirit is eager to point out those weeds! And without the blessing of fellow believers, I would feel alone in the struggle.

I wish weed control were a one-time (or even an annual!) thing. But it’s not. It’s a never-ending task requiring diligence and discipline. It calls for patient ruthlessness.

Lord, thank You for choosing to have a relationship with me. Thank you for giving me absolute truth in this relative world. Thank You for giving me love and asking me to share it with those around me. Thank You for pointing out my “weeds” and for giving me the tools to remove them. Thank You.