I planted a garden a few weeks ago. Well, actually, E used my bent hand shovel, and I my plastic ice scraper…in the middle of a thunderstorm, we put little seeds in the dirt, marking off the rows with twigs. Cucumbers, spinach, garlic, onions, carrots, beans, and peppers…planted exactly like Google suggested.
And then it rained. A lot. So I waited, more patient than I am while waiting for a pot of water to boil. Two and a half weeks later, I excitedly approached my green, luscious-looking vegetable garden.
But I found a weed garden, with a few vegetable plants.
And somehow, I convinced my dear friend to join me this morning for a weeding party as we discussed life and Ephesians 4.
For the first 10 minutes, I did the physical work of getting to the root of the weed, and then removing it entirely from the dirt. But, that was hard work, the prickly weeds poking my fingers, discovering disgusting grub, and developing a half-inch wide blister on my palm.
I was so tempted to regress to my childhood weeding: pull off the tops of the weeds and toss them aside, moving the dirt to make the garden look weed-free. I thought of what my mother would say, of the work that would await me a week later, and I said no to the temptation. For an hour we worked, and got a fourth of the way done. It was awful.
Weeds are nasty. Just the slightest seed falls on the soil, and without notice grows and develops into a thistle the size of Texas. And as easy as plucking off the visible part of the weed would be, it’s important to do the hard work right away. Otherwise, the root will grow deeper and deeper until you’re using your whole body weight, and still can’t pull the root out of the dirt.
Weeds are a lot like lies. Just the slightest comment falls on the soil of your heart, and without notice grows and develops into a thistle the size of Texas on your heart. The lie digs its roots deep to the point where the tempting, easy thing to do is to just pluck off the visible part of the lie.
That’s what I tend to do.
There are lies I’ve believed about myself and my identity for twenty-some years. Rooted down deep within me, I wonder how I’d begin to dig out the lies. I think about the blisters I’ll get, the dirt that will get under my fingernails, the pain of the prickles on my fingers…and I choose appearance over actuality. I choose to avoid the pain of weeding out the lies from my heart. I choose to appear to be free, rather than acknowledge the roots of the weeds. I choose to ignore the reality that removing the weed now is actually less work than procrastinating.
That’s what I tend to do.
Except today. Because I believe that the focus isn’t really on my hard work removing the weed, but in the power of what happens after the removal. When the weeds are gone, the vegetable plants flourish. They grow and produce a yield. That’s what the plants are meant to do, produce vegetables. We’re not meant to live with lies and fears rooted deep within us. We’ve been called to freedom, restoration, and a new identity. The focus isn’t on my effort to remove the lies, but on the work God does to grow me and produce a harvest after the weeds are removed.
Maybe the weeds keep coming back, I know lies creep back into my thoughts and my heart. And in each of those moments I have the choice. I can either ignore the weed, or I can pull it right there, before it gets rooted any deeper.
May you and I have the courage to do the hard work right away. May we not fear the blisters, but rather rejoice in the promise of a harvest. And may we give grace to those we know with a garden full of weeds, bringing a hand shovel to do the hard work together, shoulder to shoulder.