Our family may have lived in a village for over 8 years, but before that, it was all city. We are city people who love the village life and have bravely ventured into the world of gardening for the last 3 summers. We figure it out as we go along and do the best we can. Occasionally, our village neighbors step in to let us know how wrong we’re doing it. 🙂 Such was the case recently, when a neighbor came along as we labored in our large field garden. The areas we had already planted looked so nice, and she agreed they did, but then whipped out her special garden tool and informed us this was what we needed to be using. She demonstrated how to use the horseshoe-looking metal thing on a stick to go deep into the ground and pull out the roots of the weeds. We were told that to not use this tool to get out the roots meant that we would never be able to control the weeds in the garden, as they would pop up constantly all over. It’s true, too – we still remember well our battle with weeds last year (thankfully, though, God blessed us in our ignorance and we had a great harvest). Now we’re not ignorant, though. We know what needs to be done and we must do it. We borrowed her tool for the rest of that morning to give it a try and thought we were going to die! She had informed us that she could do our entire plot (small, compared to theirs!) in a single day. Unlike her, though, we have not been doing this kind of gardening since we were 5, so we didn’t have quite the success she would have had. After a mere 30 minutes and a tiny fraction of ground done, I could go no more. With every swing of that tool, my back screamed and my arms threatened to fall off. It was hard work, but it was clear how necessary it was for a successful garden – the weeds that were coming out by the root were proof of that. These field weeds here are insane – one root has dozens of shoots coming off of it that grow really long through the ground and send up weeds all over the place. We found a similar, more modern version of this tool and bought some for ourselves to continue this long, hard process. With some serious determination and commitment to get out there and do the hard work, we are going to do our best to have another successful garden.
As we worked in the garden with these weeding tools, the Lord began to show us a spiritual application. How many weeds do we have in our lives – sins, bad habits, old issues, things that hold us back, things that choke out the good, things that just shouldn’t be there? How often do we do the work of planting good seeds in our spirits, only to bypass the really hard work of rooting out the weeds that will interfere with our growth? How often, when the weeds get in the way, do we simply chop off the heads sticking up, only to have them pop back up, because we still refuse to get down to the root?
I have continued to reflect on these things as I have pounded away at this physical dirt, pulling out these physical weeds, and these are some of the thoughts that have swirled through my head:
*The weed roots in our spirits have dozens of shoots, too – the longer we continue to leave that root, the more shoots will keep growing off of it, causing little weeds to pop up all over the place.
*The work of rooting out these weeds completely is HARD! It hurts, it’s not pretty, it’s not fun. It is completely necessary for us to be successful in bearing fruit! It takes a commitment and determination right from the start that we will stick with it, no matter what, and see it through to the end.
*We give up far too easily! We will hit a wall, where we think there is absolutely no way we can continue. It’s surprising how much further you can go, if you push through that wall. The Lord told Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) It is only when we can’t go on that we can receive the blessing of truly experiencing the Lord’s strength. If we let Him, He will bring us through!
*Rooting out weeds is exhausting and frustrating. You stare at a bunch of dirt for hours on end, keeping a keen eye out for the bad. Dig, find the root, pull it, toss it, repeat. It can get depressing! However, the Lord, in His grace, has surrounded us with the beauty of His love! Sometimes, all you need to keep pushing on a little further is to move your gaze – straighten up, stretch, and look around at the beauty.
*Don’t try to call the weed a good plant; it doesn’t work! The Bible is pretty clear, if we let it be, on the fruitful things that will bring a harvest, and the weed-things that never will! Getting all wishy-washy and trying to explain away the weeds as fruitful plants might make you feel better, but will never allow you to walk in victory and bear fruit.
*Don’t forget the sunscreen! You go after those weeds and the enemy will use anything he can to try and stop you. The last thing he wants is for you to walk in victory. Make sure you put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:13-17) before you start to battle the weeds.
*Use the right tool! We’ve been discovering that the wrong tool in the garden just makes that much more work for you, leading to that much more frustration. Without the right tool, you either have to work harder to dig deep enough, or you just hack the root up as you dig deep and have to search that much harder to find all the little pieces. With the right tool, you get deep quick and easily pull out the whole root in one piece. The only tool we’re given in our armor is our sword – the word of God! No matter what the weed looks like, the root is always a lie. We get the root out by using God’s word, which is always truth!
*Don’t pressure yourself into getting it all done in one go. Accept that this is a lifelong battle. You’re not going to get all the weeds out by the root at one time, nor are you going to get all the roots out and be done. New things will take root and there will be new weeds. Celebrate the victories as the roots come out and keep praying – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps. 139:23-24) The original Hebrew word for “search” is “khakar” and partly means “to penetrate”. So, let’s ask Him to search us – to penetrate and get down to the root.
As I have realized the determination I need to commit myself to the garden this spring & chosen to make that commitment, I have been committing myself to this life-long process with the Lord. I want to be a Jesus follower that is never content to take the easy way out and just chop the weed heads down, but a Jesus follower that is constantly digging deep to find the roots, that I might walk in freedom and bear much fruit!
All for His glory in Ukraine & the world,