GARDENING

Spring is a wonderful time in Michigan.  The snow is melting. Warmer weather is finally emerging.  The world turns green again instead of a mixture of mud and snow.  As the heavy jackets are being placed into bins and light sweatshirts are coming out, residents of Michigan begin to come outside too.  Winter is long here in the mitten state, so as soon as the temperatures are above 40 degrees, people tend to come out from hiding in their homes to begin yard work.  I grew up in the south where things grow year round. The idea of plants waking up from a season of slumber is new to me, but I look forward to it every year. It amazes me each spring how one day the trees are barren, and the next day little green leaves appear.  They are only followed by full on leaves by the end of the week. In a time period of seven days, my neighborhood goes from empty wasteland to abundant life. Every year the trees just know to come back.

Trees are not the only things that comes back.  Flowers and greenery start blooming, filling the air with the sweet smell of new blooms. I have tried to grow these flowers, but I do not have a green thumb.  Not. At. All. If there is a 1% chance that I can kill something in the garden, I will. I will follow the instructions to the letter, and it still doesn’t manage to work.  Last year, I thought I would try to plant a fool-proof garden. I tried the wildflower mix that only requires spreading the seed, a little water, and sunlight. I tilled the flower bed, sprinkled the seeds, gave it some water, and the Lord provided the sun.  It seemed like I would be enjoying wildflowers in 14-21 days as the packaging suggested. However, like any spring in Michigan, an unexpected frost came and prevented my flowers from growing. I failed the fool-proof seeds. Again, I do not have a green thumb.  My wildflowers didn’t make it. However, the weeds in my garden came up nice and strong.

Weeds have a way of doing that.  The things that I want to grow don’t, yet the weeds will grow without any care or effort on my part.  I even have an area in my yard that it is covered in rocks and nothing grows… except weeds. Those buggers will push past the rocks, find any opening they can muster in order to make their way to the surface.  I have a garden of rocks and weeds. Great. We have hired professionals to fertilize our lawn in order to get rid of all the weeds, but we always manage to find a few dandelions in the lushness of our grass. My neighbors on either side… well, let’s just say they have not utilized the same services for their yards.  I’m pretty sure that one neighbor’s wild yard has caused a slight contamination of my yard. I don’t have direct proof, and it’s not like I’m going to do anything about it, but I’m just thinking in grass terms, my yard is guilty by association.

My son, who is 5, doesn’t understand why weeds are bad.  He doesn’t get that dandelions are bad for the lawn because all he sees through his eyes are pretty flowers.  Though we tell him time and time again that we want grass in our yard, he still doesn’t get it. The weeds look nice because they come across as pretty.  Little does he know, that those cute little yellow flowers are choking out the good lawn. Weeds choke out what we really want: life and lushness.

We all have weeds in our lives.  If you have a yard, you literally have weeds growing in your life in terms of your front yard or garden.  You get down and pull the weeds out of your garden, but if you don’t get the root, those suckers are going to come back with bigger roots and be even harder to get rid of.  You can be like me and put rocks over your weeds, hoping that the lack of sunlight with just drown out the weeds, but they will always find their way to the surface, exposing your lack of killing the root.  If you don’t attend to your front yard, it will run wild with weeds like my neighbor, and can cause neighboring lawns to stumble into weed-dom.

In our personal lives, weeds have two names: hurt and sin.  Hurt is sin that is done to you. Sin is actual sin that we commit whether to ourselves or someone else.  We can try burying it under loads of better looking rocks like appearance, nice things, being super friendly, etc., but it will always come to the surface.  Through my reading, I came across Ephesians 5. It says starting in verse 12:

“For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.”

Sin in secret and hurt that we shove down will ALWAYS come to the surface.  Not maybe. Always. The tricky thing is secrets can come out in different ways.  I have an emotional weed that I am in process of pulling now. I have for many years had a difficult relationship with my mom.  We have different religious beliefs and views concerning life, which causes a lot of strife on our relationship. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I had children of my own.  I would get angry at them for the dumbest things. I’m not talking a little frustrated. I’m talking grit my teeth, yelling, with everyone in the house (including myself) crying. My kids didn’t know why.  I didn’t know why. To get to the root, I started going to a Christian counselor, and we figured out together it was a weed from my poor maternal relationship that I never pulled the root on. I just tried to ignore it and hoped it went away, but it didn’t.  Weeds that are left untamed will go wild. It’s in their nature, and it will destroy the good things you are trying to grow, like healthy relationships. I still keep a loose relationship with my mom, but I have to set clear boundaries for myself and my children.  I have to guard my heart, for it’s the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23), and no one wants weeds near their wellspring.

Playing with similar weeds in the lives of others can cause our demise.  Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 15, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” Just like my neighbor’s yard flows into my nicely fertilized grass that we have spent time and effort making beautiful, the association of another can cause downfall.  Does this mean I’m going to build a bubble around my yard and let no one’s dandelion seeds fall on it? No, but I shouldn’t be surprised when I see weeds coming up in my lawn. What it does mean is that I can’t just assume that I can work on my lawn every once in a while, and everything is going to be okay.  If a friend was a struggling alcoholic, you wouldn’t want to see her at the bar. If my sister had a porn addiction, I wouldn’t want to leave her alone with my computer with no internet filters. You can have the best intentions, but if we are trying to live a life of holiness but our biggest influences aren’t, we aren’t going to rid our lives of anything but good character.  Simple as that. (Note: I don’t have a sister; this is just for example. Carry on.) The next verse Paul writes is, “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God – I say this to your shame.” We can’t know what God is about for our whole lives and pursue Him if we don’t maintain our lives rooted in His Word (the Bible) and stop trying to live a life of sin.  Just like my son doesn’t know that dandelions are weeds, how can we know God’s ideal plan for us unless we read it in His Word. My son’s lack of knowledge doesn’t change the fact that a weed is a weed, no matter how pretty it looks; and our lack of knowledge doesn’t change the fact that sin is sin, even though culture says it’s pretty. To God, sin is detestable, and secret weeds come to the surface. Always.

Spring is a beautiful reminder of God’s grace.  Yes, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have to pull the weeds in our lives, but God is the ultimate gardener (John 15:1).  There is no way we can rid our lives of sin without Jesus. Just like each year the world comes back to life, we are given opportunity to see life emerge out of our mud and that which seems to be dead.  We can take off the layers of past experiences and hurt and be made new in Christ. Life blooms and smells sweet to the Lord. Like the flowers and trees, as Christ makes our lives new in Him, what seems like small buds today can be lushness by the end of the week.  Praise the Lord that He doesn’t want the weeds to run wild in our lives, but wants to get to the root of it all so we can live and bloom for Him.

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