Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I planted a garden this spring--48 small square feet of carefully planned and arranged seeds in a pattern fashioned for pest deterring and optimal growth. We've been enjoying spinach and baby lettuce salads with scallions and radish in fresh basil vinaigrette--I'm salivating at the thought of the goose neck squash, zucchini and cucumbers who will span the surface of my plate by week's end. Worth every ounce of effort I am reaping the rewards of some genuine work and planning earlier in the spring. We were afraid we'd never get the garden in this year--it was the worst possible time. In the middle of finishing building our house, moving in, moving out, winding down our school year, testing and, well, you get the picture. But I knew if I didn't do it then, we wouldn't yield fruit later. (It's never a good time to do spiritual gardening--always other things will scream out for us to take care of them first) Then there were the weeds--no surprise in a standard row garden, but since we had brought in all the soil and created raised beds, I hadn't anticipated the level of weeds that popped through the soil before our precious seeds had a chance to grow. The problem with the weeds was that with each tiny green leaf that seemed to be in the very spot I planted a seed there came confusion--was it oregano or some other horrible impersonator? Was that a carrot leaf popping up or had they all washed away in the heavy rains? I didn't know how to verify the identity of many of my veggies in their infant stages. I ended up tasting almost every single green item that began to grow in an attempt to see if it was good. (Reminds me of the passage, "Taste and see that the Lord is good..." A good rule of thumb--if it isn't good in your life, it probably isn't from God.) Finally there were the failed seeds--the ones that seemed so promising and looked so lovely on the package--and then failed to produce. Their squares of soil remained empty for several weeks before I knew for certain they were duds and I should replant. (If we leave empty patches in our spirit and fail to replant healthy things from the word of God, I can promise you weeds will happily plant themselves in those spots. There is no portion of our soul in which the Word of God doesn't need to be planted.) Everybody does garden analogies, and I don't want to bore you. What I do want to say is simply this. As I've been doing some gardening outside, I can't help but see the same pictures others have seen and written about so beautifully. Spiritually speaking, right now, I'm pulling some weeds. They're larger than I'd like and unfortunately, their root systems have spread into many portions of my life. Where there are the roots of weeds the fruit of the Spirit are limited. Joy and peace are stunted where strife and criticism have taken root. Gentleness is stifled where anger has been given full vent to grow. I don't want to give you a misleading picture--I'm not headed for the loony bin...yet :-) The other day I drove up to my mom's house and she's got this large bank where we ripped out all manner of weed and wild plants a couple years back. Since then she'd done a great job of keeping it cleaned up, covered in wood chips and planted in annuals. There's no place for a weed on that picturesque bank and yet when I pulled into her laneway there stood a four foot tall wild flower...aka, weed. How in the world had that weed taken root on her bank? How had it gotten so big? Well, that's probably a more accurate picture in my life. A few rather large weeds seem to be flourishing and God knows I don't want them to flower and go to seed. Have you ever seen a plant that flowers and goes to seed? Think dandelion! Those seeds flitter and float and flank themselves about every possible area of domesticated beauty and choke out what is supposed to flourish leaving spotty yards and blossomless flowers. So, this summer I'm going to do some weed pulling. I've never been one to put on a perfect face and act as though I have it all together so, I'll bare my soul through the journey as I get time to share. For now, let me offer this passage: "For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (sound mind, self discipline)." II Tim. 1:7 God gave us a Spirit of self control and sound mind--we do not have to live in a garden of the enemies' weeds. We can claim power, we can claim love and we can claim self-control. Today, I claim self-control and ask you to join me in my gardening venture. Perhaps you can identify a few weeds now that they've gotten large enough to differentiate. Is that righteous anger or is that rage that has erupted in your spirit? Is that constructive advice or a spirit of criticism flourishing over there in that relationship? Is that freedom in Christ or gluttony? Is that gossip or truth sharing? Is that materialism or simply enjoying the blessings God has given? Is that complete and utter selfishness or is that just 'me time'? Only you can answer these kind of questions for yourselves, but as for me, I'm going to start naming weeds in my life and I invite you to join me as I watch the weeds wilt. Here's to reclaiming the gardens of our souls.