Weeding the Garden

"Bronze Susan"   Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
“Bronze Susan”
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

Many of you know that my passion is gardening. There is a saying, “You are nearer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” I suppose that if you were a carpenter, you might say that you are nearer to God’s heart in the sawmills. However, since that is not the case with me, my heart tends to be nearer to God’s heart when I am outside.

I have often wondered if what draws me is the display of endless and bountiful colors that He adorns the earth with or if it is the fresh air and the release of tension that comes when tending the soil. Whatever it is, it does my heart good.

Recently, I spent a long day out in my yard digging weeds from my lawn. For most people, I have heard that this is tedious work. For others, they prefer to sprinkle it with commercial weed killer and hope that it gets the most of it. For me, I am not content unless I get my gloves on and have my weeding tool in hand and dig the pesky things out, knowing that I have gotten as much as the root as possible. For some they call this obsessive compulsive. For others, being a perfectionist. For me, I’m just doing it the way I was taught. Regardless, it’s great therapy.

During my therapy session with God the other day, He began to show me more deeply, the impact that sin can have on our lives.

I was taught in a biology class that I once took, that a weed is something that grows where you don’t want it. So, on that day of therapy, I took to removing the weeds in my lawn—things that were growing where they didn’t belong, in places where I didn’t want them. I think sin is like weeds. It grows where it doesn’t belong, in children who belong to God and have been bought with the blood of Christ. If we know that it has no place in our lives, then whey do we allow it?

I spent a lot of time that day pulling out clover. I let it go too far. When it first began to grow, I remember thinking, I like the little flowers. I knew it wasn’t grass, I knew it didn’t belong, but for the time, I enjoyed it. Now, I was paying the price. What once seemed so appealing was now literally choking the life out of what I wanted to grow and so much so, that what was supposed to be growing in those places where clover had taken over, had now completely disappeared.

After much pulling and cutting into my fingers, the roots came out slowly, often leaving gaping holes in the lawn. Places that will now need careful tending to heal and grow back to the place where the obsessive compulsive gardener likes them. And, isn’t sin like that?

It can be so appealing and doesn’t appear that harmful and so we allow it to tease us to the point that we let just a little bit in our lives and before we know it, God is having to tend to us with the weeding tool of his gentle hand and work on the roots we have allowed to embed themselves deep into our heart.

Like… swearing. Like eating. Like the books we read or the music we listen to or the shows we watch. It all seems harmless but before we know it, we’re saying a few of the same words, eating a little too much, reading what would break the heart of God, humming tunes that don’t lift anyone or anything up and we’re watching things that Jesus has to leave the room for. And for those of us who are parents, what message are we sending to our kids or grandkids? Even dandelions are pretty for a moment, but we all know how, when left unattended, that pretty little flower goes to seed and then you have a big problem!

As I was pulling out all these weeds, I also realized how much pain there was involved. My hands grew stiff, my back hurt, and it was hot. It made me realize that God takes no joy in seeing His children suffer. And, sin causes suffering.

As my hands became cut and scratched from the weeding, it made me think of Christ, who shed His blood to remove our sin so that we could be restored back to the place our heavenly Father desires us to be.

We all have clover growing around us and we all allow a dandelion or two now and then into our lives. The trick is to get them out before they take hold, the root goes deep and the sin spreads. Is there something in your life, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed, that is keeping you from blooming the way God intended for your life? Is there something choking the life of Christ out of you?

Not too long ago I asked God to show me if there was anything that was not pleasing to Him. Years ago, I decided that if I wanted anything specific for my life, it was to know I lived a life that pleased God alone. When asking Him, there was not anything obvious that came to mind, but in the days to come, God clearly showed me two areas that did not please Him. To others, they may have seemed insignificant. After all, I wasn’t robbing banks or committing adultery, but to me, they were areas needing tending because they grieved His spirit. And to Him, they were, plain and simple – sin. I allowed Him to dig deep into my heart and take out what didn’t belong there. Even the smallest areas can be painful to remove. It is painful to know that you have broken the heart of God.

If you are struggling today, I am praying that you will allow the love of God to restore you to the place He desires you to be. If you think you have everything together, I encourage you to seek His heart. There may be some little area He can see that you are unable to see and it’s keeping you from complete fellowship with Him. It may be time to do some weeding.

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