If you are at all like me, you spend way too many hours sitting at your desk and leading meetings, neither of which inspires soul-searching reflection in quite the way that a few hours communing in nature can.
As the days get longer and warmer, I head outside into my garden to see what the long winter months and Portland, Ore., rain have done to my carefully planted beds. You don’t have to be a plant expert to know which of the new spring growth are weeds. They are everywhere. They have taken advantage of my absence to multiply tenfold, hundredfold and more.
As I dig in with spade in hand to ruthlessly remove every last weed tendril and root, I ponder the existence of these intruders. Clearly, these too were made for God’s purposes, and there is redemption to be harvested from their presence.
Soil was designed to be generous. Its purpose is to bring forth abundance. It almost seems like magic that you can stick a tiny little speck of life, a seed, into dirt, and it will grow into something as spectacular as a tree or a sweet bunch of strawberries. It is not surprising then that Christ used soil as a metaphor for the human heart.
A garden full of weeds will choke out what is intended to grow there. Weeds don’t wait for an invitation; they just show up and quickly take over all the fertile areas. With innumerable intruders to remove, I let my mind wander and contemplate that I am like the ground, missing out on fruitfulness.
Without proper alertness I let the concerns of life, and sinful attitudes and habits, take over what God designed to bring forth abundance.
- If not removed early and continually, these will prevent growth in the areas where I could be flourishing.
- A life filled with “weeds” cannot be generous to produce a harvest for the sake of those I am called to reach.
- It takes effort and toil to clear the habits and attitudes that I have allowed to abide, and often it requires outside help. I need another Gardener to spot the ones that I have missed.
- The most insidious of “weeds” are the ones that hide behind something good; they entangle themselves with the vines and growth that are desired. Discernment is needed to separate the life-giving from the life-stealing.
Made in the image of God, we are designed to be generous and bring forth a harvest of righteousness. But we cannot when our hearts are hardened and full of sin and self-righteousness.
In humility, we must acknowledge our state and express godly sorrow, with repentance; break up the fallow ground, remove the weeds and allow the mercy of God to bring life to our souls. Then we will experience the rain of righteousness that empowers us to bring life and redemption to our fellow man: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hos. 10:12, NKJV).
In this season of new life springing up all around, take some time for gardening in your heart, and pray for His guidance in what needs to go and what shoud be nurtured.
- For God to reveal the hardness and unacknowledged sin in your heart (Ps. 139:23-24).
- For the Spirit to increase generosity in your soul with overflowing fruitfulness (Luke 6:38).
- For increased alertness to those sins and habits that keep making a comeback (I Peter 5:8).
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