I’m awesome at growing things. Weeds mostly.They just spring up all over the yard. I barely have to do a thing!
Although, last summer I did have a semi-successful attempt at veggie gardening, though that was a bit more work.
I carefully planted the seeds in their little starter trays in the early spring, when it was still too cold to plant them outside. Then, later on, I transferred them to their pots outside, with some help from my Dad. (Okay, a lot of help – thanks Dad!)
Then there was the process of watering, fertilising and keeping little hands out of the soil each day.
It was rather humbling when the best crop of zucchinis and cucumbers came after the house-sitter spent three weeks here. Every.Single.Zucchini. after that simply failed to grow and then rotted on the plant.
Did I mention I’m awesome at growing things?
Another huge task my husband undertook last spring was the process of de-weeding the garden. This involved several treatments of “Weed n Feed” on the lawn, after systematically removing as many weeds as possible by force.
And when I say “force”, I mean it – you should see the huge weeding tool my husband has! That thing is almost industrial!
So, he’d been working hard across the lawn, and had got most of the weeds out. But there was this one corner at the bottom of the garden that we had kind of been ignoring for so long. The weeds were practically tree size down there. I mean, you could have lost a small child in those things! (Which was a problem, because we had small children…)
One day while he was at work, I decided I would tackle the weed jungle for him – call it a “labour of love”. 😉
One and a half hours and one very sore back later, most of the weeds were out. Here is the pile I got (wish I’d taken a ‘before’ pic!):
There is something so fulfilling about working with your hands, especially in the garden, I think. There are tangible results, you feel it in your body, and it also gives lots of time for thinking and reflecting.
Here are some things I’ve been reflecting on:
1. Weeds are Easier to Grow
As unfair as it seems, in the garden, weeds will grow more easily than vegetables. In fact, pretty much all it takes for weeds to grow is some available ground and the willingness of the gardener to turn a blind eye.
I think it is like this with the sin in our hearts also. An unoccupied corner of the heart, an eye turned away, and sin can easily take root and sprout into a child-eating weed jungle before we know it!
For this reason, we need to be:
– asking the Holy Spirit often to reveal and convict us of any hidden sin.
– listening to the Holy Spirit when he does this.
– surrounding ourselves with faithful Christians who might see sin in us before we notice it, and humbly heeding their correction when it is offered.
– confessing our sins to one another out loud – bringing our sin into the light where it will not continue to be ignored.
Jesus says in John 3:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
What sin have you allowed to take root in your heart?
It’s time to bring it into the light.
2. Don’t Leave Space for the Weeds
You can’t rip out weeds and then replace them with nothing – the weeds will just grow back in! You need to rip out the weeds and then put a healthy plant in there.
This is why we use Weed N Feed on the lawn – it kills the weeds and strengthens the grass. I think some people use ground cover plants over the winter to stop the weeds taking root in their vegetable gardens.
When we bring our sin into the light and pull it out of our hearts, we must not simply leave the space empty, or it will simply be a matter of time before our sin nature sprouts up in new ways again. And, this side of heaven, there is a certain inevitability to this. We will struggle with sin until Jesus returns and we are perfected in his image.
But in the mean time, we can carefully fill up the spaces in our hearts with good things.
I believe this is why Paul wrote in Philippians:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Don’t leave space in your heart for sin to spring up.
Fill your heart with good things.
3. Fruitfulness Takes Effort
For one in the early stages of vegetable gardening, the work is painstaking and hard.
Sometimes you are surprised by the joy of seeing tiny sprouts spring forth from seeds you planted last week in their starter trays. And sometimes you knock that starter tray into the kitchen sink and have to start all over again.
And sometimes, despite the fact that you stopped him the 20 times prior, the baby makes it to the end of the yard and is able to scoop out half a pot of soil with his tiny baby fists.
But despite the effort that goes into vegetable gardening, we know the end result is worth it. It is worth all the hard work and set backs for those tasty, home-grown veggies you get at the end.
Likewise, as Christians, it is worth all the struggle and effort in the Spirit to produce fruit in our lives.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
If we are walking in step with the Spirit, listening as he points out the sin in our hearts, and filling our hearts with good things – our hearts will produce these fruits.
And just as we can’t make our vegetable plants abundantly productive, we can’t make our hearts produce the fruit of the Spirit. That is God’s work.
In gardening, we provide the good soil, we plant the seeds in a sunny spot and provide water to the growing plants. But God is the one who makes them grow.
As Christians, we need to:
- Open our hearts to God
- Plant good seeds through what we think about
- Spend time in the Son’s presence
- Water our hearts with God’s word
And God is the one who grows the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.