Once again, I was working to prepare our garden for spring planting and, just as in past years, I found myself thinking about the lessons learned from gardening that can be applied to our lives. In past posts I have discussed the importance of controlling the ‘weeds’ of sin and addiction(s) in our hearts and lives. I also wrote about the importance of preparing the soil for planting by removing all the leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter months and then breaking up and amending the hardened soil so the seeds can germinate and thrive.
In a similar vein, I began the task of clearing our garden beds and the issues of complacency and neglect came to the fore of my musings. You see, it has been a couple of years since we last planted, and it was readily apparent considerable work would be required to get things ready. In addition, there was the issue of invasive plant species, but I will address that a little later on…
As I began cleaning the leaves and debris that had been accumulating over the past years, the parallels to maintaining our recoveries became obvious: Do not let junk pile up; it becomes much more difficult to clean up. Proverbs 4:23 tells us: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (NKJV) It is easiest to attack and clean up our besetting sins when they first show up, when they are still small, before they completely take over our lives. However, the only way we can be sure of success is to completely eradicate these invasive thought and actions before they are able to establish roots.
This brings me back to my current lesson in gardening and the control of invasive species while trying to prepare our garden beds. You see, years ago, we planted a wisteria tree on one side of our back yard. Later, when we decided to start gardening, we moved the wisteria to the other side of the yard to make room for some raised-bed gardens. In the process, I had to try and dig out the main root(s) for the plant, but finally gave up when the hole I was digging got way too deep. I reasoned that surely that was deep enough, and the root would wither away and die deep in the ground.
Here we are all these years later, and I am, again, doing battle with this wisteria root. Not only did this buried root survive, it thrived after remaining underground and spreading quite some distance before surfacing in various locations. In working to dig out these roots, many of which are quite substantial, I managed to leave that corner of my back yard and a small portion of the front yard looking like a series of WW I trenches; and I was still nowhere near finished….
A search of the internet for methods of eradicating wisteria produced the following advice: “Cut the wisteria to the ground to prevent it from re-sprouting. Be sure to bag up and dispose of all wisteria branches (and seed pods) to eliminate the chance of new sprouts popping up somewhere else. Then, use a specially formulated herbicide such as Round-up for getting rid of wisteria for good.” Serious measures for a seriously invasive menace!
This situation serves to illustrate the dangers of not completely dealing with sin in our lives. We can clean things up on the surface, but there is danger and death lurking beneath the surface if we do not completely and ruthlessly eradicate the sin(s) that may maintain even a small presence in our hearts. Again, serious measures for a serious menace as called for in Scripture: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,” (Colossians 3:5 & 6) and, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” (Matthew 18:8 & 9)
If we try to eradicate these weeds (sins) under our own power and do not turn the process completely over to the Master Gardner, we are likely to be like Paul in Romans 7:15-23. Here Paul describes how he desires to do good but finds himself doing what he does not want to do because of the sinful nature that is within him.
While there is potential for considerable pain while well-established weeds are pulled from our lives, Paul proclaims the way out of our predicament: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24 & 25)
May we all keep the gardens of our souls watered, weeded, and fertilized; and our fruit trees well-pruned! Pay attention to not leave those small, stubborn roots of sin (rebellion, pride, etc.) behind, only to have to deal with them again when they become a full-blown menace. Call upon Jesus today to help you rid yourself of the troublesome weeds of sin, He is more than capable of handling everything if you will just let go and let Him work in the garden of your heart.
Taking Every Thought Captive!
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4