Our garden has been not only a bounteous provider of food for our bodies; it has been a wonderful lesson in the application of Biblical and godly principles. Take, for example, the issue of sin. Sin is like the weeds that plague our garden. Oh, our garden is fruitful–very fruitful–but it also harbors an abundance of weeds. Much like my very human heart, there are some not-so-productive things growing in my garden.
The most vicious weed in our garden is something Mr. Bill calls pigweed. “Terrible stuff, that pigweed,” he told me the first time I laid eyes on the garden when I saw these huge purple, thorny plants growing everywhere! Indeed, it is terrible stuff. The thing about pigweed is that it starts out very small–almost pretty with its tiny purple leaves atop a green and purple stem. It doesn’t take long before that tiny little plant begins to get ugly. The thorns are the worst. They are hard, sharp thorns–worse than blackberries–and they go all the way down the stem and into the ground. The thorns break off at the base and get stuck in the skin of whoever touched them. Those thorns attack if you just brush against them with your leg. And try pulling them up bare-handed? Last year I tried pulling the pigweed with my bare hands, or I would wrap grass around it and pull it up. A few festered pigweed thorns caused lots of misery last year. (This year we got smart and bought leather-palmed gloves for all the girls to wear.) And isn’t that the way of sin? The consequences can cause pain for years to come. Thankfully the pain of a festered thorn goes away once the thorn is out! The funny thing is that if you can get the pigweed before it grows, it is so easy to remove, even bare-handed. Not so when it is big. Pigweed grows a long tap-root, and it is quite comfortable in the ground. It takes a very strong person to pull out a fully grown pigweed plant. And that is so much like sin, too, isn’t it? The longer we harbor sin in our hearts and lives, the harder it is to root out. I’ve seen that in my ingrained habits of turning to food for comfort instead of turning to the Lord. The power of sin grew and grew until it seemed almost insurmountable. God is the only one strong enough to pull that weedy sin out of me…and I am so thankful He is!
The other thing about pigweed is that you have to get the root out of the ground or it just comes right back. My husband bought me a great hoe a few years ago: it has a triangular head and it slides along the ground chopping the weeds from just under the surface. It is everyone’s favorite hoe–we all sort of lay claim to it when it is time to weed the garden. And while it does a great job of chopping the pigweed at the surface, the real problem is that tap root. That pig weed will spring right back to life if given half a chance. If you have ever fought a battle against a particular sin in your life, you know exactly what that is like. There can be no chopping of pigweed or sin just at the surface; it must be pulled completely up if it is to be eradicated.
Another weed growing in our garden doesn’t look like a weed. We have morning glories growing all over the garden. They start out innocently enough…little triangular green leaves on a tiny vine. They even look pretty–the purple flowers peeking out from the beans or the corn, or even the tomatoes. There are just two problems: morning glories are poisonous and they strangle the plants around which they grow. One must be careful when handling morning glories with bare skin–they contain psychoactive chemicals, which is a short way of saying they can cause hallucinations and mental disturbances. Just like some sins in our lives, they look so attractive. They look….productive…even. But they are not! Morning glories can grow a long, long vine. We recently decided that our first two rows of beans were finished their life cycle–the stems are all turning yellow and they are no longer flowering. As I pulled them up, I pulled up the morning glories that had grown in and around them. Just a few plants had covered the whole row. Sin can be prolific like that, too. It can be so hard to pull out that which masquerades as beautiful. It takes eyes to see that the fruit that doesn’t look as pretty is actually more beneficial–in the case of my garden, the green beans versus the morning glory flowers. We know that the green beans mean life. It is easy to pull out those morning glories when we know the truth.
The other attractive weed in our garden is, I think, a type of thistle. It grows a long, hollow stem atop of which sits a beautiful pink flower. Did I mention that the stem is covered with fine thorns that break off at a whisper? Thankfully it comes out of the ground fairly easily–it is all promise and no substance.
Sometimes weeds will hide under my large plants. Our squash are huge again this year–large enough for a small child to hide under, in fact. I sometimes don’t notice a weed because it is hidden…and by then it is often very large. The same is true spiritually–I often don’t notice a sin until my Heavenly Father pulls aside a leaf to show me an ugly weed He needs to dig out. Thankfully my Father is usually a gentle gardener. Sometimes it hurts to have a sinful weed rooted out of my life, but that is okay. Just as our weeding of the garden makes my vegetable garden more productive, His weeding of my heart makes my life more productive.
I’ve had several conversations with various of my children about how the weeds are a lesson of the spirit. What starts small can grow into a huge problem. What isn’t addressed early can take over and cause untold trouble. Things that look good can be poison. And we must be diligent. We have let the garden go a week without weeding, and the weeds take over. The same is true with our hearts. I am reminded that I must seek the Lord daily or the weeds of sin take over. It is hard-learned lesson…one that I am still learning. The good news is that God’s grace is more than enough to cover the weeds in my heart’s garden. It is continual process–I repent, he forgives and renews, I start fresh. The Lord gives me a newly plowed heart garden in exchange for the weedy mess I give Him. It cost Him everything….it cost me nothing but a pile of useless weeds. It is an exchange I am so blessed to make. And that, my friends, is grace. Psalm 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Amen and amen!