When I made the transition from townhouse owner with a small garden patch to home owner with two wooded acres, I had a lot to learn.
The first lesson I learned was from the Master Gardeners Hotline. According to them, I now owned property overflowing with rocks and invasive weeds that could eventually strangle any planned garden. Their best advice was to methodically clear a section at a time each year and ultimately be content with the uncultivated look.
My second lesson came when I tackled that first section of the woods bordering my non-manicured lawn. Clothed in only shorts and a tank top, I soon learned I was highly allergic to poison ivy.
In the mixed beauty and uncomeliness of this au natural setting, I found the Lord. From that point on, He was the one who taught me countless life lessons in my garden on my knees.
I have now been enrolled in the Holy Spirit School of Gardening for five years. Each time I enter my gardens, (now always wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants) I ask the Lord to teach me something. In the tranquility of His creation, He has been faithful to reveal so much about His character, my character, His plans for me and innumerable illustrations of His Word.
During these five years of working the land, many questions regarding the weeds in my garden continue to perplex me. With an audience of one, I frequently look to the original Master Gardener for answers.
“What about these weeds God, why do they keep growing no matter what I do to try to stop them?”
“If these are Your creation, just like the flowers and You know each one, should I be spending so much time and effort trying to systematically destroy them?”
“Or are they the enemy trying to destroy my beautification plan and must I spare no expense or effort to annihilate them?”
“Why Lord, have You made so many counterfeits – the weeds that grow side by side next to and look just like the real plants?”
“Why, when it rains do they seem to grow even more prolifically than the plants in my garden?”
The deeper the roots, the more difficult it is to pluck out these weeds. “Does that also apply to the stubborn pride in my heart?”
“What in the world Lord, are you trying to teach me?”
Glad to report, the lessons learned from God are never-ending. Whether we are enduring the most difficult trial, delighting in a joyous occasion, or spending hours in the dirt of our own garden, our Lord is always teaching us something. Our part is to listen and ideally apply what we’ve learned.
In my outdoor prayer closet, I caught a glimpse of some of the answers to my many questions about the weeds. Yes, the weeds are always there, they are faithful to reappear and must be attended to in order not to choke the beautiful plants and flowers. Likewise, we will always encounter unpleasantness, even adversity in life and must pay careful attention not to allow it to strangle our joy and fruit we produce for the Lord. In the parable of the weeds, (Matthew 13) Jesus warns us of the tares that grow alongside the wheat, most of the time completely undistinguishable from the real thing. He acknowledges that they must remain until harvest, when their true identity will be revealed and will then be burned.
To what extent do we allow these tares to grow alongside our path and ignore the effect they have on us? And like our natural gardens, as soon as we identify the weed and pluck it out, another seems to replace it. We can be confident that the Lord knows every weed and every good fruit in our lives and is there to help us maintain a beautiful garden.
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