Gardening is a pain-for-gain balance. If I’m willing to battle thorns, thistles, bugs, blood, sweat, and salty tears, the pay off is pretty beds brimming with butterflies, blossoms, and friendly bumblebees. Such idyllic wonder! Wonder akin to the domestic joys of scrubbing toilets and ironing linen. The rings and wrinkles will return as will weeds.
Left untended, weeds overrun and overrule garden beds. One such bed, delightful with soft corral-colored scents, thriving after summer showers, was shocked overnight with a fringy hairdo, a motley display of unwanted growth, drinking and thriving from the same rains as welcome neighbors.
Not concerned about the well being of tender new rosebuds, said weeds waged a third world war. Today, they met their garden Goliath. Not throwing stones, but bent with bare hands – the raw-fingered way to niggling roots – my nail beds sunk into dark, nightcrawler domain, ripping and tearing deeply entrenched roots, carefully avoiding flower twigs and branches.
The problem is that when one pulls weeds, especially mixed with rosebushes, battle scars are real and unavoidable. Initially the ultra-fringe imposters are easily removed, with a healthy dose of dirt flying. But the fight escalates when weeds intermingle with their host plants. Scrapes, punctures, finger splinters, messy blood and sweat, all accompanied by rogue mosquitoes give antibacterial soap manufacturers reason to exist. When finished, looking as if I had separated warring cats, my hands and arms bore evidence to victory. At least for this day’s battle.
There is poignant but painful purpose in life-weeding. Sin intermingles with God’s good, and His love is too great to turn away. His love is so real, in fact, that He digs into the dirt of my heart; He removes suffocating sin. When heart-wrenching wrongs press against safe stems, God is gracious to tend my infiltrated soul and sift the soil of my heart. He makes it ready for fresh growth, for new life.
There are perennial weeds and annual weeds. Basically, annual weeds grow from seeds from the previous growing season while perennial weeds grow from established roots that survive winters. Perennial weeds live more than one year and recover or regrow from dormant stolons, rhizomes or tubers as well as from seed.
How are annual and perennial weeds like my sin? My pastor talked about GGLEAPS this past Sunday. He sounds like an Olympic long jumper, but in reality, GGLEAPS is not a hero and should be avoided like a common weed. GGLEAPS is the acrostic for what we know as the seven deadly sins. Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Anger, Pride, and Sloth. All familiar to all within life’s weedy way.
Annual weeds come from seeds that grow fresh. Seedlings, starting as tender temptations that grow into full blown sin. To yank them at first growth is the quickest way to kill these sins. Perennial weeds are untended, established roots. Besetting sins, wintering over seasons, taking up residence, making their beds in the dormers of heart, mind, soul, and spirit, pressing against good growth and God’s very goodness. Stolons, rhizomes, and tubers of sin encroaching on the blossoming fruit God tends within the core of my being. Proverbs 12:3 is a weed pulling trowel. “No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.” Through heart cry and confessing repentance, established by Christ’s forgiving grace, wicked sins are squelched, giving room for the root of righteousness to grow and bear fruit.
To daily bend my knees, and bow my heart to God’s weeding Spirit, sins forgiven because He fought the battle and won the victory. Jesus’ pain for my gain. Not fair gardening but truly most grace-filled. Purposeful pain, pulling every weed wrapped around my soul, freeing my heart to grow.