About a month ago after a good overnight rain I ventured into my backyard to take on some weeds that were determined to take over the place. I have several types of weeds in my back yard – easy (prolific but no root structure so they come right up), oak tree saplings (the squirrels forgot to harvest since last fall and these don’t pull out), milkweed (with a root structure that requires a heavy equipment operator’s license to eradicate) and green briars.
I considered these weeds while I was working and found a lot of parallels to sin in my life. There are the sins I consider easy – foul language, stealing, murder. Duh! Those are wrong – don’t do them. Out and piled before you can say Round Up!
Then there are the sapling sins – gossip, lying, or envy, for example. These don’t seem so big and if I really wanted to go work at it I could root those puppies out acorn and all but it would take a lot of work. Sometimes it’s just easier to bury them but the problem is that the deeper they are buried, the easier it is for the root to reach down and anchor. And they seem innocent enough from the top. It’s a three-inch tall sapling! How harmful could it be! But when I DID manage to get one out that three-inch sapling had a six-inch root and it left behind a huge hole.
Did you know that milkweed actually serves a purpose? It’s great food for butterflies! Too bad I’m not a butterfly. Ambition also serves a purpose, but when we allow ambition to take the place of faith that God will provide for our needs, we lose. Learning is a great thing! But when head study replaces heart action, we lose. Milkweed is actually just liquid in the middle. If you cut a piece down and let it dry out, you will be left with a straw. All that work that looks useful and awesome is empty without faith and hope. Milkweed has an insane root too. It stretches ridiculously deep and while you can chop it off at the surface, it will just spawn new shoots. Kind of like those moments when we surrender our finances to God but not enough to commit to regular tithing – just in case.
And then there are the green briars. (Grrr!) They were hidden among the other weeds so I reached in for a handful of easy and wrapped my hand right around a green briar. I tried to pull back out but it had snagged on my hand and left souvenirs behind. The next handful which I knew didn’t have a briar plant in it still hurt like nobody’s business because there were still small briars in my hand. I gingerly pulled everything out from around it and then went in with the clippers.
So I raked all my weeds together and found a yard bag and started to bag them up. It was going swimmingly until I grabbed a huge handful of….green briars. Why in heaven’s name didn’t I put those in a different pile?!
I don’t know what sins in your life-like to hide. In my case it’s anger. I can lose my temper over the stupidest things! And I will find a way to justify it. Well, I’m allowed to be angry about that because I’ve tried to tell you a million times that it needed attention and you kept ignoring it so now it’s a big problem and you want to be mad at me because I can’t fix it! So of course I can be mad! I should be mad! It’s all YOUR fault.
But anger and temper tantrums aren’t ever justified. And when I lose my temper and have a big fit, it leaves little pieces behind – or maybe it tears little pieces away; pieces of the other person. I can try to pretend for a while that I have my sin of anger under control but I’ve really just tossed into another pile. Eventually I have to deal with it and many times it’s just as painful, if not MORE painful, than the first time.
That was all a month ago. But just now I was folding laundry and looked out the window and what to my marveling eye should appear but a new crop of weeds! Now these happen to be the prolific characters – those little sins – but they are back and just as plentiful as before even if they aren’t as big. Would anyone like to venture a guess as to why they are back so soon?
I didn’t make the investment to protect the ground from their resurgence. No mulch, bark, weed killer or even pine straw. I just left the ground exposed to more sun and rain and allowed the growth to happen. In all honesty I don’t think I’ve been in the backyard since the day I pulled all the weeds the first time. Oh, I worked in the front yard! It’s nice and neat and last week I put down about fifteen bales of pine straw. The appearance from the street is pretty swell. It’s the part that can’t be seen that has been neglected.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You O Lord; Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statues; I shall not forget Your word.
The only way we can protect our lives from a resurgence of sin is to treat the ground sin comes from – our hearts. We have to saturate our hearts with God’s word and wallow in His commandments. Only then will we have a heart that craves to grow only what is of God. It is very easy to treat the conditions that everyone sees – the gossip, deception, hate; the front yard of our lives. It is an entirely different matter to go to those things that are hidden, root the problem out and replace it with God’s attitudes and precepts.