“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
Conquering the Invaders
We didn’t see it coming. One day the lake appeared clear and bright as it sparkled in the sunshine; the next it exploded with an overgrowth of non-native aquatic plants called Eurasian water milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed. Huge and unsightly, tight-knit mats invaded the top of the water as these varieties crowded out pre-existing, native aquatic plants. Boat propellers stalled. Fish sought refuge in other parts of the lake. The natural beauty of rippling waves disappeared.
Even worse, these tenacious invaders continued to multiply like wildfire. Each morning the evidence of infestation magnified. Our state environmental agency said nothing could be done immediately; the appropriate processes and legislation required that we wait a year for them to launch a full-scale attack. Some of our neighbors purchased various herbicides and began randomly applying them. Others joined us in hiring a professional weed patrol company, knowing that even its best efforts would only temporarily knock down the growth.
Meanwhile, my husband and I gritted our teeth. We seemed trapped in a waiting game requiring tolerance and patience, and yet we simply wanted the weeds to disappear. Every day the milfoil and pondweed in front of our house spread, choking out native plants that previously thrived in ecological harmony for decades and possibly even centuries. We watched, helpless, as these foreigners fought to take over our beautiful lake.
The applied metaphor seems powerful. In my own life, certain strongholds or “weeds” invade my soul. These uninvited visitors - like impatience, fear, gluttony - grow privately beneath the surface of my life by leaps and bounds, crippling my heart. Eventually they finally rise to the surface, displaying the ugly evidence of overgrowth for others to see. When mature and in full bloom, they isolate me, scar my physical and emotional health, and taint my witness for Christ.
Sometimes I find ways to temporarily pinch back those weeds and stunt their growth with my own measures – my own philosophies or self-imposed rules. But unfortunately, they usually only grow back stronger than before.
The appropriate state agencies will study water samples and take into consideration the ecological impact of fighting these unwelcome, foreign weeds. They are prepared to make decisions in the best interest of the lake, and to implement actions that will bring about lasting results. Likewise, my heavenly Father is the One who samples my heart and knows how to best confront rebellious invasions that threaten to overtake it. He alone is able to conquer strongholds and restore me to the person He intended me to be – victorious and fulfilled in Him.