I felt a surge of accomplishment as my hoe scraped across the ground and exposed a strip of clear soil. I hadn’t wanted to weed my garden today, and yet the surprising progress spurred me on.
We never lack for projects on our property. We have heard it experienced a few years of neglect before we moved in. In its glory days, it included several more acres and operated as a dairy farm. I struggle to look beyond mounds of weeds and imagine those prior times of prosper.
Upon the arrival of spring, I felt hopeful in planning a large garden. Despite much clearing and tilling I planted with the knowledge I would have a long season of weeding. Any garden experiences weeds. One on land left unkept will have an over abundance.
With so many projects, I had avoided the garden for a few days. An evening of rain showers had caused a rush of growth. Where once carefully planted rows lined the ground, suddenly there was only a blur of green.
I made clear swipes with the hoe. Slowly at first. I gave a silent prayer of thanks for the stakes marking the rows of fruits and vegetables. Although not overly laborious, hoeing took a while. A simple stroke of the tool and the weeds came right up. A few tough ones required more effort. When the hoe could not dislodge the weed, I reached down and pull it by hand. I was surprised how the roots were long and had grown deep. I had to grasp the plant at the base or the root would break off and grow again.
After some time of hoeing and raking, order was again restored to my garden. Rows were easy to identify and several displayed small sprouts. I cringed at the row of peppers, knowing I had mistakenly scraped out a good plant.
Taking a break to survey my efforts, the Lord spoke. A gentle whisper, “weeds are like sin.”
I considered how weeds compared to sin. Weeds sprout suddenly, and left unattended they take over a garden. Some weeds establish a firm root that grows deep and require more effort to pull. If left, the weeds compete with the good plants until the fruit is limited in its growth or does not grow at all. Like weeds in the garden, sin appears overwhelming. When attended regularly, much can be cleared with a simple swipe of a hoe.
Feeling encouraged in my work, I moved my efforts outside the garden to where large patches of goatheads grow. Goatheads are a noxious weed. They are also referred to as puncture vines as they produce a barbed seed pod that can easily puncture a surface as thick as a bicycle tire.
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My garden tools set aside, I lugged a propane burner to the most infested area. The highly invasive weed isn’t always easy to see. It hides under patches of grass and other plants, weaving its vines in all directions. Although destroying a portion of my yard, I took some pleasure in burning areas of the weed. I was amazed when directing my flame over a long vine leading back to the base of the plant. It was so pressed to the ground and looked to have a cluster of tentacles going out in all directions.
Goatheads cannot be eliminated with only burning. The root of the plant grows deep. Once the vines are burned and seed pods removed, the base of the plant must be pulled. Sitting on my little garden stool, with a pair of bent nosed pliers, I painstakingly dug under the burnt remains of the plant until I could firmly grasp and pull the root.
When I had a nearly full bucket of burnt weeds, I paused to survey the area. Along the fence line I could see more goatheads. Their small yellow blooms under some tall grass gave them away. So close to the fence, they threatened to invade my garden. Upon closer inspection, I discovered invasive tentacles had grown through. Not into my own garden, but into my son’s. He had planted his own crops of corn, fascinating purple beans, and sweet cherry tomatoes. Being his first garden, he’s inadvertently pulled healthy plants. Frequently I’ve had to help him identify weeds to pull, and teach him how to help healthy plants grow. Just at his gardens edge, where replanted watermelon seedlings were making impressive progress, I saw a small patch of goatheads.
Again, I heard the gentle whisper of the Lord. “These weeds are like the sin of this culture. What I call evil, they call good. What I call good, they call evil.”
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor. 4:4
Looking around at the burnt patches, I considered the destruction of sin left unattended too long. An invasive weed that hides. Small blooms look pleasing at first glance. To stop the growth, everything in the area is affected.
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This is the same destruction I witness daily when hearing the news. Babies killed over womens’ right to choose. Gender identity and the definition of marriage are in question. Accusations of intolerance if we speak God’s truth to these issues. Worshiping at the idol of our favorite NFL team or seeking the popularity of social media.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
Our fight is not against flesh. Our adversary steadily steers society away from God. He intends to kill, steal, and destroy. Church, we cannot afford to slumber! If we compromise God’s truth, or look the other way, we allow weeds into the gardens of our hearts. If we sit in complacency, we teach our children to accept the sin of this culture.
Wake up! Put down the smart phones, video games, and turn off the television. Do not immerse yourself in a church focused on making you feel good and never speaking of sin. Open your eyes and look around you. The land of our culture has been left unkept. The weeds are choking out good fruit. Don’t you see how it has affected our church?
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 1:11
If our Savior returned today, would He be pleased with the condition of your garden? Do you have noxious weeds growing on your fence line? Are noxious weeds infiltrating your garden, and the gardens of your children?
Slumbering church, wake up and pray! To love this sinful world requires committed action. To look away and do nothing is a conscious decision for complacency. Will you stand for truth? Will you stand against the culture when it hates you for upholding God’s truth? The stakes are high. How will you respond?