Our Spiritual Weeds
Doing My Chores
When I was a child, one of the dubious tasks that I was charged with was the job of pulling weeds in our yard. We really didn’t have much of a lawn at our home in the desert sands of west Texas, but my parents were intent of making the best with what we had. My dad wold hand me one of those weed pulling tools that looked like a large screwdriver with what appeared to me like a snake’s tongue on the end of it, and tell me to get there and don’t stop until I was finished. It didn’t take me long to realize that pulling weeds wasn’t near as much fun as playing with my Hot Wheels or watching television, but I really wasn’t given much choice in the matter.
I can still hear my mother telling me to be sure and dig down to the root otherwise the weeds would just come back and I would have to pull it again later. One of her favorite sayings when I was child was “a job worth doing is worth doing right the first time”, never were any wiser words spoken. Still, with thoughts of having fun swirling in my head, I would often just hastily pull what was visible so that I could give the appearance of a job well-done and go about doing more important things.
Oh, That New Lawn Smell!
Fast forward a couple of decades later and my wife and I are homeowners with our very own lawn to take care of and manage. Our property had never been built on before nor did it have any grass so we decided to go with a Bermuda grass lawn. We had multiple dump truck loads of the best top soil that could be found and a landscape company came out and installed a new sprinkler system and sprayed a hydromulch mixture onto our yard. The grass seed and fertilizer infused paper mulch is an ideal environment for grass seeds to germinate the, IF watered properly.
With all of these factors in place, the new lawn came up with the tiny, beautiful bright green grass leaves that is only present on the first growth of a new lawn. For me it was very exciting to see this lawn take hold and within a few short weeks, and much water, we had a beautiful lawn. I worked hard to keep it mowed and trimmed on a regular basis and it soon resembled a green thick-piled shag carpet. It was already late in the growing season and the lawn soon became dormant turned the familiar color of yellowish brown.
The Honeymoon is Over
The next spring the lawn came back to life and once again, but with it a crop of weeds that had also learned to enjoy the fertile environment of soft, well-aerated soil. Thus the seasonal war of weed vs. man began and has continued for over 25 years in the same .6 acre battleground. I usually maintained the upper hand with the help of an arsenal of chemicals and a fully-automatic 14 gallon lawn sprayer that pulls nicely behind my rising lawnmower. The more the weeds grew, the more herbicides I used to keep them at bay.
A few years back I got up the gumption to try long distance running. The training was hard and I found that I had little time or energy to maintain my lawn like I had in the past. In addition, I also joined a praise and worship band which also took up a lion’s share of my free time. With all of this “other stuff” going on in my life, it didn’t take very long to start losing the battle over my lawn. Soon, very large portions of my lawn contained more weeds than grass, you know, the grassy kind that you can’t kill with regular weed killers. My beautiful lawn had become an utter breeding ground for grassy weeds!
In my hour of anguish I resorted to the chemical of last resort, Roundup. I thought that if my lawn can’t have this patch of dirt, nothing will! Well, I did succeed in killing the weeds, but I was left with about .2 acres of nothing, even a desert floor would have been ashamed of the amount of green flora that remained in those areas.
After apologizing to my neighbors, I vowed not to never let my yard get out of hand again. I started reading articles on the internet about the proper use of herbicides, the ideal times to fertilize, mower cutting height, watering amount, frequency, the whole agricultural shebang!
What I ended up learning was that the best defense against weeds is a healthy lawn and getting down on my hands and knees and pulling out those pesky weeds, one weed at a time. Sure, pre and post emergent herbicides aid in the battle, but nothing gets rid of weeds like physical removal of the weed, root and all.
You might think that I have already wrapped up this spiritual application, now it's time to connect this to our spiritual life, but hold on to your garden gloves on for a few.
My wife and I live next door to my mother-in-law. She is getting a bit up there in years but she still works circles around most people half of her age. She maintains a fairly large vegetable garden and still operates a riding lawn mower and even a rototiller. With all of that to take care of, weed control hasn’t been high on her priority list. She keeps everything mowed on a regular basis but I’m not really sure that she has intentionally killed a weed in years, save for the confines of her vegetable garden. She has always been leery of chemical herbicides, as a result, she probably has more weeds than grass growing on her property.
I simply don’t have the time or resources to pull her weeds and mine at the same time, but I have attempted to at least keep the strip of land between my lawn and her driveway “somewhat” free of weeds. I must admit, that much of that effort is from selfish intent, after all, the seeds from her weeds soon become my irritating weeds.
Last year I committed myself to pull every weed in the strip of lawn between our properties, it must have taken me 15 to 20 hours toiling in the early morning “cooler” hours of a Texas summer. But, at one point I was finally able to declare that strip of lawn, “weed free”. However, in the back of my mind I knew that there were many seeds still lurking just below the surface, just waiting for a chance to grow.
There is a young man in the neighborhood that she will hire to come and edge and trim her property since she doesn’t care much for operating her weed-eater, herself. He comes over about twice per month and does his thing and everything looks all nice and tidy. But there was one thing that became evident after a period of time. Around the photenias that she had planted along property line, he would literally scalp the grass to ground while using the weed-eater, exposing the soil and roots of the grass. Like most grasses, Bermuda does not thrive well when cut too low, soon weeds began to take over where healthy grass once grew. The absence of healthy grass created a vacuum of vegetation allowing for more hardy weeds to take over.
Prayer and Bible Study,The Ultimate Herbicide
Ah, you think that this is finally the end of my spiritual illustration now, right? Well, this time you are correct. Tally up in your mind how this ties into our spiritual lives, wait a moment or two, then read on. I you come up with more than I did, please leave a comment or two at the end of this article, I’d love to hear them.
The temptation here would be to tie all of this to the parable of the sower and the seed, but there is one glaring exception, all of the soil mentioned above is “good soil”, not rocky soil, the tares weren’t there first, no birds eating the seeds as they fell. Instead of this simply being about the gospel going out and falling on different types of soil and the longevity of plants coming up being based upon the type of soil that the seeds feel upon.
It would also be tempting to say that this leads into the parable of the wheat and tares, but no, it’s not. While I am all for burning the weeds that grow up in my lawn, ridding them from existence for all eternity, this is not about those plated by the enemy being allowed to grow with those planted by Christ until the harvest comes.
My illustration is about you and me, the “good soil”. Assuming that everyone who has been reading this is of the Christian faith and that the spirit of Christ dwells within them, this is about our Christian experience. We have all experienced that new “honeymoon experience” of when we first come to Christ and realize that we are loved and that Jesus died for us so that we might live for all eternity with Him. The spirit and love of Christ grows abundantly within us and we grow with vigor like that new lawn.
But, as is so often the case, we tend to eventually go on spiritual cruise control and things of this world, those pesky weeds, eventually take root and choke out the things that bring us closer to God. We replace time that we used to spend in prayer and reading the Bible with watching television, movies, playing video games, on our cell phones or simply idle. Or, how about the things that are not so visible to others like gossip, envy, deceit, lust, the desire for earthly wealth? As a result, the “cares of this world” choke us out a bit. But, we are the good soil, right? For the sake of this argument, I will refrain from suggesting that we are soil filled with thorns. However, if we don’t spend time on our knees, pulling out those weeds as they are still small, they can become thorns in our life, limiting our spiritual growth.
There are times when we recognize what keeps us from that closer walk with God. We acknowledge the problem and we hastily remove all evidence of it being in our lives. But, without removing the root, the problem will continue to grow beneath the surface, using using up precious resources and eventually coming back to the surface. I can think of instances of this in my life, I'm sure that if you are honest with yourself, you can do the same?
Many, if not all of us, have experienced that time when all that we see in our lives is dead grass, exposed soil, a life filled with shame a guilt. We have gone through seasons in our lives where all we really want to do is give up and let the world consume us, giving up on the good growth in order to stop the bad growth with it. We have been knocked down, cut too short, poisoned, left out to dry. But, the Lord is still there, waiting to rain down on us, renewing us, ready to bring us back to life and life more abundantly.
I think that it would be naive to say that we don’t all have a few weeds that need to be pulled, we all have those seeds hiding just under the surface that if given the chance, will sprout up and would threaten to give off the appearance of a lawn that is green after a fresh mowing but is actually filled with weeds. Only by persistently spending time on our knees and fertilizing our minds with the good things, can we truly enjoy the good growth.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article, please feel free to comment below.
Blessings to you!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Tony Muse