I do believe that when “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed…to dress it and keep it,” in His wisdom He knew that, in the midst of growing things, we could learn the most profound lessons of life. (Gen. 2:8)
Yes! It is that time of year. We do not have the garden we once had, but our few vegetables (along the fence and in “tires”) are growing – and so are the weeds! Those unwanted plants that grow up, uninvited, rob the legitimate seedlings of their necessary food from the soil.
We also now have a driveway and parking area covered with washed gravel which serves us well and which looks good – until it becomes spotted here and there with dandelions, plantains, purslanes, and other undesirables. Then it looks shaggy and unkempt.
Unfortunately, dealing with those intruders only on the surface does not solve the problem. We must get “at the ROOT of the problem.” Ah, yes, ROOTS!
–Some roots are tender and break off easily, leaving the main part in the ground to grow just as aggressively as ever.
–Some roots grow deep and it takes some serious digging to get hold of the whole root.
–Some run underground for yards (meters in Canada J ) and it takes some diligence to follow the trail to their end.
–Yet others grow in large clumps that leave a gaping hole when they are extracted.
Not all weeds appear obnoxious. Some can be rather attractive, with nicely shaped leaves and even pretty flowers. And we allow them to grow, thinking they will not do too much harm. But time passes, the rains come, and we get busy with other things. Then one day, we discover that ‘harmless’ little weed has taken over and the proper plant beside it is looking stunted and under-developed. We try to remove the weed, but the roots have spread and tangled with the roots beside it, so that it is almost impossible to avoid damaging the good plant even more.
The Word of God uses roots to symbolize some things in our lives that are detrimental to our growth and development, and it warns us to keep watch for them. “Follow peace with everyone, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord! Looking diligently…lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” What starts out as a seemingly harmless ‘justified’ feeling of pride or self-pity, soon grows into resentment, malice, rancor, animosity. It robs us of the joy and peace that comes with growth, development and maturity. (Heb. 12:15)
I think many of the problems we encounter in life are the result of permitting a little root to start growing:- resentment, unforgiveness, anger (‘justified’ of course!), jealousy, pride, envy, love of money… I recall a little chorus we sometimes sing with the children:-
Dig them out, and get them gone,
All the little thistles in the fields of corn:
Envy, jealousy, malice, pride,
And all the other sins that in my heart abide.
The very best ‘trowel’ to deal with this kind of ‘weed’ is the Word of God, applied by the Holy Spirit. “For God’s Message is full of life and power, and is keener than the sharpest two-edgèd sword. It pierces…and penetrates…and it can discern the secret thoughts and attitudes of the heart. No created thing is able to escape its scrutiny, but everything lies bare and completely exposed before the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13-16 Weymouth)
The Message Bible says it is as “sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.” As we yield to God’s working in our lives, it is sufficient to deal with the most tenacious “roots” that, as I wrote in an earlier letter, tend to invade our Life’s Garden, pilfer our peace and joy, and steal the nutrients our spirits need to “grow in grace” and bear “good fruit.”
The passage goes on to tell us that Jesus, our Saviour, has preceded us into the Presence of the Father, so we can “come boldly to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in our times of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
There isn’t much more satisfying to a gardener than tidy well-cultivated rows of healthy, fruitful plants, free of weeds and thistles. “YOU are God’s garden – God’s planting…” and He desires to have “plants” that produce the good “fruit of the Spirit,” which is “in all GOODNESS, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and TRUTH, proving what is acceptable to the Lord.” (1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 5:9,10)
“Let us not lose heart in well-doing for, in due season, we shall reap if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
“Now the God of all HOPE
fill you with all JOY and PEACE in the believing,
that you may abound in HOPE
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In Agape, Eulene