Today I went outside to work in the yard. It has been nice for the last few days and I promised myself that I would get outside. Each day I made that promise, I didn’t follow through. Instead I stayed inside and worked on the laundry or did errands that needed to be finished. Here the temperatures have been in the 70’s and 80’s. Later on in the summer we will boast of temperatures in the high 90’s and possibly into the 100’s. But for now we have the perfect spring weather. It’s a time for watching everything begin to bud and blossom. God will take his paintbrush and fill it with color—color that will cover and include almost every imaginable hue and shade.
My project was to move some zebra grass that had overgrown its boundaries. I loved the green and yellow colored blades and it was a nice way to camouflage certain areas around the house. I had used it near the air conditioner but it had grown so thick that the grass was beginning to grow into the air conditioner. It simply had to be moved. Task for the day---dig out the zebra grass, move it to a new spot, and replant.
I headed out to the back yard with a shovel in hand. I began to loosen the soil around the grass but quickly realized exactly how root bound the plant was. I put my shovel into the soil and found that it was easy to dig into the ground but the more I tried to get under the plant, the more my shovel threatened to break near the area where the metal and handle meet. No way was a shovel going to do the work on its own. I returned to the garage to get an axe and a wheelbarrow. My trusty axe would make the job easier and cut through the roots quicker. Its sharp blade went into the clump of grass. It hardly separated the huge clump and I realized that the progress I expected to make would take much longer. I struggled and worked and toiled and then I tried again to separate the plant. I pulled so hard in some areas that I found myself sitting down on the ground. It took more than one whack of the axe to work through the heavy root system. The work was frustrating and the more I worked the more determined I was that the plant was coming out.
After almost an hour and a half I managed to get the heavy plant out of the original hole. I separated it into several sections so that I could replant it along the slope at the side of the house. It took another exasperating forty-five minutes of getting the shovel into the dirt just trying to the dig the holes where I could plant the grass. At the same time I had to keep my balance so that I wouldn’t slide down the slope. (Believe me the next house we own is going to have a level back yard!)
What an ordeal! I can say that at the end that the final score went something like this.
Zebra grass---Total 14 points
8 points for each time that it refused to give way to my shove.
4 points for the frustration I had replanting it
1 point for falling out of the wheelbarrow
1 point for getting into my face
My score---Total 17 points
8 points for being able to remove the zebra grass with my axe or shovel
2 points for pushing the wheelbarrow around the corner of the house
3 points for actually getting the plant into the hole
1 point for not losing my temper while working
1 point for not allowing the axe to hit any body part
2 points for keeping my balance on the slope
I can say with confidence that I did complete the job.
Jesus is the perfect gardener who knows exactly what we need in our life. John 15 tells the parable about a vine that grew in the area where Jesus was. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1,2). This verse came to my mind because it was a verse that I heard over and over during the years. Also, the process of pruning and moving a plant to a new location and removing the dead branches is very much a part of gardening. I knew the parallel but it was never as vivid in my mind as in the early spring.
Some plants thrive in my garden. Other plants are devoured by the deer and rabbits, and others just dry up due to periods of drought. The garden must be tended almost on a daily basis if you are to be successful. And sometimes when you take the most care and work hard to keep things growing, weeds surround the plant or the plant grows back in a place where it once stood. That’s what will happen to my zebra grass. No matter how hard I try to remove it, a few roots will survive and the grass will return. I will have to pull it out again or grab a handy bottle of Roundup and give it a zap or two.
Last year my gardener came to work in my yard. We are very fortunate to have zoysia grass and it does not need mowing as much as regular grass. It means that the gardener usually comes out about once every four to six weeks. This gardener is probably one of the best in the area. I had watched him for over two years work in my neighbor’s yard. He was meticulous and always left the yard spotless and well groomed. On one particular visit he decided to trim one of our bushes. He came to me later and showed me what he had done. He seemed so satisfied with his work but the real truth is that bridal wreath is known for its large graceful branches that almost reach to the ground. This particular plant had been growing for about five years and had a good arched shape on it. It would take some time to get the shape back but the areas where the branches had been trimmed would put out more branches and become fuller so it wasn’t all in vain.
God’s word tells us “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Unless I allow God to prune away the weeds of sin I will not be able to fully thrive and blossom into the Christian that God truly wants me to be. Sometimes He has to prune away the dead part of my life to open my eyes to new and better views. At other times the pruning is subtle and I hardly feel it. God is shaping me into a new creation so that I can become more like Him. My life needs to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. His guiding hand will nurture me each step of the way if only I will let Him.
God, this spring work in my life and remove the dead branches that I have permitted to take over a part of my life. Make me a rare flower that will bloom in your garden and bring honor to Your name.