Today I was given the task of weeding around the tomato patch. To be honest, I find weeding to be one of the most unpleasant outdoor tasks imaginable.
It’s simple enough, I suppose. Weeds have roots, and they go much deeper than you think. I don’t know how many times I fell on my rear today because a massive root system snapped after I threw all of my weight against it. I began by targeting the large weeds. I figured the little ones weren’t a problem, especially when the big ones were taking over the tomato vines. Yet as I worked I realized that I was being lazy. In focusing on the big ones only, I was leaving the real danger to take root within my garden.
Weeds grow quickly and quietly. Within a few days they can destroy a tender plant. In the bible weeds are used in more than one parable as the subtle roots that choke out the gardener’s plants. We have many different kinds of dirt in our garden. Some is hardened clay baked dry in the sunshine. The weeds in this area grow above my waist, and their roots are large and heavy. However, the area behind the tomato’s is soft sand. The fast growing weeds are easily removed. Yet in this soft and willing sand the weeds take root more quickly. Little ones are easily missed at first. It isn’t long before little weeds become monsters that rise up and destroy tomato vines.
I felt a growing desire to fix this one patch. I had been given a task, and I desired to obey it to the fullest. I wish I could say this is common for me. Often I obey my Dad with a grumbling heart. I complete the bare minimum and call it good. Today as I considered the weeds I realized the tomato patch was very much like my own soul. I don’t bother with the little problems, because they hide behind the big ones. My soul was once hard and weeds took root with strength. While it has softened towards the Lord it has also become blind to sin so long as it stays small. In my laziness I haven’t approached the problem. This is when those weeds grow and multiply.
God told me today that I had a lot of weeding to do, inward and out. So for the first time in my life, I took to weeding my Daddy’s garden with a passion. I was determined to pull every single weed from the one patch I was working on. I couldn’t possibly do the entire garden on my own, but I was only given one area. I walked behind the vines and yanked every weed out by the root. When the tall ones disappeared I had to get down on my knees.
Little did I know how many tiny leaves had formed beneath the sand. We overlook these little leaves as being harmless. White lies, selfish desires, unhealthy daydreams, little idols that suck our time away from God…..slowly they creep beneath our soul’s outer sand. Before they are apparent their roots have begun to poison us. I learned that when you rely on God, He provides the attitude and patience to complete the work He has given you. A task given to you by Him, whether it be great or small, can be done wholeheartedly or lazily.
My hands were starting to hurt from a previous activity I had done earlier in the day, and strangely enough those tiny weeds took much longer than the big ones. Just when I thought my attitude was where it should be, I heard a car in the drive. Part of me wanted to jump up and run to the house. I knew that my friends had arrived. Yet something stopped me. My Dad wouldn’t have minded in the least, but I wanted to finish what he had told me to do.
I wanted to honor my Father’s orders.
The second lesson I learned was that God honors our obedience to Him. And He uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to support us in our walk. I heard the door slam and my friend’s voice in the yard. I listened as he approached my brother, who was also outside working. He asked my brother if he needed help. My brother had no idea how encouraging he was to me. He had been sweetly working this entire time with a cheerful attitude, despite the sudden addition to his regular chores. To my surprise, he politely declined help and continued working. Not a single complaint ever crossed his lips. His quiet strength was a gentle rebuke to my original bad attitude.
Even though it was unnecessary, my friend came and helped me finish weeding. It was a small kindness that came as easily as breathing to him-as he is always helping anyone who needs it- yet he served as a reminder to me as well. God knows our limits and our hearts. Some of the things we are told to do have to be done alone. At other times we are to help one another. Part of belonging to the church is working together.
I like to do things alone, in my own strength. Over many years I have begun the process of giving up that strength to my Abba father in heaven. It’s a constant struggle. God never wanted us to work alone. He is a community, and He designed us to be one as well. We can’t uproot the weeds in our lives by ourselves. We are to rely on one another as accountability partners, to catch what we cannot see. Yet without God’s guidance and working hand even that would be impossible.
Over summer camp this last week, we talked about God’s involvement in our lives. Like a child, we are convinced that we are doing all the work. In reality, God is there throughout all of it. He is the one guiding us, shaping us, protecting us, and He is the One who redeemed us. Without Jesus, I am nothing. A task as simple as weeding a tomato patch can become mission impossible if it is attempted without Him. He works through the simplest things in life, so long as the soul is softened and the heart is ready to listen. And let me tell you, the process of softening the ground before the weeds can be pulled up hurts like fire from hades. Yet His tender love continues to pour into the heart. It is a never ending journey.
God’s love is expressed through all of creation. The last place I would have looked was in my Daddy’s garden. Praise God, His light overcomes the blind.