For over the last year, we’ve had a pastoral prayer meeting at our house on the 1st Thursday evening of the month (you are invited if you’re in the area since it is tomorrow!) We prepare by praying for the Spirit of God to dwell in this place and for all the people who will join. We also make sure the house is clean and in order since people are coming over. I had to increase my standards of cleanliness as a married man since my standard as a single male was pretty shabby. Thank the Lord I have my wife!
A few days before the last meeting in April, a new request from my beloved wife came to me, “Would you mind pulling the weeds out by the front? It’s been so long since we pulled them and they are starting to look out of control.” As usual… she was right. The weeds over by my doorstep in the front have not been pulled in many months. Some of the weeds were spiraling over the flowers, others had easily pushed through the wood mulch, and the dangerous white dandelions were out in their glory, ready to spread their seeds with the slightest touch or blow from the wind (as a kid, I used to blow these into the wind to make a wish… I didn’t realize how bad that is if you live in a home!) On top of that, the weeds by the fence had gone the distance and were taller than I! So I realized I couldn’t put it off any longer and with a deep sigh, dedicated my afternoon to taking care of those weeds.
Little did I know the blessings in disguise when it came to taking care of those pesky weeds! God can speak to us in our daily lives no matter what we are doing. Here are some of the spiritual lessons I learned from my gardening experience:
- Neglect doesn’t make the ‘weeds’ go away
Since I had been so busy, I had allowed the weeds to grow out of control. The longer I waited to take care of the weeds, the more time they had to spread. In fact, it was quite overwhelming to look at what had become because of my neglect.
The same neglect can happen with issues of our own life – when we are willing to turn a blind eye to the issues that need to be taken care of, we can feel overwhelmed and defeated before we start to deal with the issue because it seems ‘out of control.’ We may not know where to start or how to deal with our problem, but, thankfully, we have a God who is always in control and is with us even when we are covered in ‘weeds.’
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2
I hope this verse brings comfort to you knowing that God is with you, regardless of something that you should have taken care of weeks ago or even years ago. Whether it’s deep water or fire, He’s there beside you! The Lord God will protect you during this time of cleaning up your garden because He doesn’t want those weeds to grow in your life in the first place. As you start to address those weeds, He’ll be there with you each step of the way, one weed at a time.
2. Weeds choke out the ‘fruit’ in your life
It’s important to remember that the definition of a weed is ‘a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.’ Unfortunately, these weeds represent the negative influences and situations that have taken place in our lives that ultimately suck the life out of what God wants to cultivate within us. In other words, God wants us to grow in Christlikeness – the fruits and gifts of the Spirit and represent Him well accordingly; weeds hinder our growth in these areas, which can hinder or kill what the Holy Spirit has planned to develop. While the list is not exhaustive, here are some of the ‘weeds’ that can take hold of the good God wants to see blossom:
- Bitterness that has resulted from a negative or tragic experience
- People who influence you towards sin or evil
- Self-defeating attitudes that you believe are true
- Substances that ease the pain
I fully believe that, whether choices for these weeds to be there were made intentionally or not, God doesn’t want them to stay there! Ask the Lord for strategies on how to pull up the weeds around the areas that you know He wants you to develop. If you feel the Lord wants you to develop patience, then why does anger keep popping up? Anger is the ‘weed’, so how are you going to deal with it? Pray for wisdom and for people to possibly come alongside you to help you.
3. The bigger the weed, the bigger the problem
When I started taking care of the weeds along the fence, it was more difficult than I imagined. While I could get a good grip on the weed, there were many instances that I could not pull the giant weed out by my own strength. I had to use a trowel and constantly dig around the base of the weed until I loosened the weed’s grip on the dirt, causing it to come up much easier.
There are some things in life that we’ve gone through that we cannot ‘self-will’ to fix. There are issues that we’ve tried and tried in our own power to resolve, but have still failed. That’s where we need something greater and stronger than ourselves – That is the person and power of the Holy Spirit.
For it is [not your strength, but it is] [c]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 AMP).
Only God gives us the tools to dig down deep enough to start uncovering the root cause of the pain that we are currently facing. If we only ‘pull up’ the issue that we see on the surface, the root is still firmly grounded and the weed will grow again. Although it may be painful to dig up issues of the past and uncover the root cause of why we may be critical, angry, or fearful, we have a choice to make: Am I willing to face short-term pain to eventually pull up this root and have it be gone for the rest of my life? Or do I want to constantly live in pain by never digging deep enough to remove the reason the weed is there in the first place? As the verse indicates above, we have to trust that God is effectively at work within us, even through the pain that seems deep-rooted; He is faithful and will help us through it.
As indicated, there are so many lessons to learn from when it comes to those weeds that grow in our lives, and I am positive you can think of many more! The Lord wants to develop the good things in our lives, so we have to be diligent about getting rid of the weeds that can so easily grow right in front of us. I ask, as you read through these 3 points, that you’d focus on the area the Holy Spirit is impressing upon your heart. In this way, you’ll be cultivating what God wants for you and ridding that what has been holding you back.
Have a blessed week and happy gardening as you begin taking out the weeds in your life!