As much as I love the color that comes alive and the flowers that come in an out of season there is one thing about all this beauty that I dread.... weeding! Weeding. (sigh) I know that weeding is going to make my hands hurt, the next day I am not going to be able to walk right because of all the kneeling and deep knee bends. I'm going to be dirty, sweaty, my eczema will blow up on my hands and wrists from the work gloves, and I will have heebie-jeebies thinking deer ticks are hiding on me. I'll be scratched and pricked from rose thorns and cactus. I will attempt to do everything in one day because I know that it will be so unpleasant that I will not want to go back at it the next day. That only adds to the pain.
But...as I am on my hands and knees, lamenting the fact that I should have let my city-boy husband just pave the whole thing when we moved in, God is faithful to meet with me.
Each blade of unwanted grass is a reminder of the curse. Because of Adam's sin the ground was cursed. Why is it so hard to pull up? Thoughts of my own sin creep in. Why is it so hard to let go of some of the things I struggle with? Why can't I just repent of them and be done with them. They hold onto me tightly not wanting to be eradicated. At times, the best I can manage is to pull the tops off but the roots are left to spring up anew; much like this ajuga weed that pops up everywhere.
Why do the weeds grow up in the midst of my flowers? How do I get them out without disturbing or pulling up the things that are meant to grow there? I think about how Jesus said the the wheat grows up with the tares (weeds).
Matthew 13:24-30 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
The lesson here is plain, right? But God pressed and I considered how wheat and tares grow up in my own heart. The good things I do are intermingled with my sinful desires and attitudes. My motives, good and bad, are thriving together in the same soil. My flesh, old nature, old man is the enemy of God and loves sin. Like Paul I can bemoan my condition:
Romans 7:18-20 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Each spring I come to my gardens and see things growing that seem pretty, good to the eye. Sometimes I don't know they are weeds until they reach maturity. Sometimes I suspect they may be weeds but I take a wait and see attitude. And, sometimes I know they are weeds but I leave them because I like their beauty.
Hebrews 11:24-25 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Weeds can be beautiful and sin is pleasurable...but that is part of a master deception. Weed's beauty and sin's pleasure are fleeting- they don't last. They have no eternal worth. The fact of the matter is that they are destructive, eternally destructive left unchecked. Weeds, no matter how beautiful, will only grow more weeds. When left to their own they will choke out or overtake a bed of beautiful, cultivated flowers. While the weeds are growing up next to my flowers, herbs and vegetables they are stealing the good food from the soil that is meant to nourish my beloved blooms. As sin in me is left unchecked or allowed to flourish it, too, will only serve to overtake the good things that God has worked in me.
As master of my gardens it is my job and joy to tend my gardens just as it brings God delight to tend to his children. It grieves my sinful, broken heart to see all the mess of these early spring beds but how much more does it grieve my holy, perfect, heavenly Father to see the weeds of sin that have sprung up in me? In my garden it is at my discretion to allow the weeds to grow with my plants so that I do not destroy the good just as God does with us. Occasionally, I have to make the hard decision to turn the whole bed over and remove the good with the bad.... This is also God's prerogative.
I pray that as I spend the next few months tending to the gardens and enjoying the sunshine that God will continue to meet with me there. I pray he continues to pluck up the weeds of sin making way for the beauty, cultivated by his hand, to flourish. As he does this in me I pray that I can be faithful and not fearful to share with you what the Lord is teaching me, that it might also bless you. I praise my God that even in the chore I dread he is so gracious to turn my thoughts to himself, while on my knees he feeds my soul, and he makes my work a delight.