May 24 & 31, 1999
Some time ago my brother who lives in Japan and has a Japanese garden to care for asked about how I control the weeds in my garden. The next day as I was out working in my garden, pulling out the little weeds that were coming out the Lord called it to mind and impressed me with the spiritual counterpart to his question. For as in the parable of the Sower some of the good seed fell among thorns which grew up and choked out the plants so they died, so will the weeds of our lives—the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things—grow up to choke out the spiritual life God would have grow in us from the planting of the imperishable seed of His word. He impressed me with the answer to my brother’s garden problem, as well as every person’s spiritual problem, and that is just what I was doing in my own garden that day as the Lord spoke to me: we must continually be going over the garden of our lives to root out those weeds even as they are forming and just coming out, getting rid of them while they are small, lest they grow too large and become all the more difficult to remove, or worse, lest they reach maturity in our lives and go to seed. Then the winds of the world which always blow will cause their seeds to be distributed even more widely in the fields of our own and others lives. How great is our need to root out every blot and blemish of sin, every evil thought, every questionable motive, lest like the weeds of our gardens they grow up and rob us of the good fruit the Master Gardener shall soon come to look for. For in that day, just as in my own garden, if He finds none, He shall say as He said concerning the fig tree, “Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?”
Then, just a few days later the Lord seemed to expound upon this parable as I was pulling goat-heads out of our back grassy area with Elijah and Emily. Goat heads are an incredibly nasty weed whose fruit is a needle-sharp bur shaped like a caltrop so that no matter how it lies on the ground there is always a thorn sticking up. Our lot was covered with them when we first bought it, so that when they graded it they couldn’t help but scatter their seeds, especially toward the back of the lot. The following spring there was an area we had seeded down with buffalo grass in which hundreds and hundreds of little goat-head plants were coming up, as well as lots of the goat-heads themselves to poke us as we went along pulling them out. Indeed there were many more goat-head plants than grass, so that the Lord impressed upon me how grievous the situation becomes when the field of our lives becomes so overgrown with weeds. I was thinking about how in the past our lot had just set for so many years and the weeds allowed to grow unchecked so that now, even after the lot was graded, there were so many bad seeds left over that in the spring it quickly became overgrown again with weeds so that we had a difficult, even painful time ridding our lot of them so as to allow the good grass to grow. How very like this is to the field of our lives when they are stagnant and the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things are not carefully controlled but allowed to grow unrestrained. Soon there are so many of them, and their seeds (the fruit of such evil plantings) so profuse that we are in dire straits to completely rid ourselves of them. For then all we can do is as the kids and I did with the goat-heads: for three days in patience we carefully worked our way over the area and rooted out every goat-head plant we found, whether large or small. And even in the one area where there were so very many, still in patience did we work carefully to get them all. In the same way must we be patient with any area of our lives so overgrown with the weeds of evil. We must take time to look carefully at our hearts in the light of God’s word to discover every sin which defiles, whether large or small, and root it out, repent of it. For then the good plantings of peace and joy can grow up strong and undisturbed by those evil weeds. It is also important to do as I must now do in my lot, and that is to continue going over it, especially in the area where it was so thick with weeds before, and keep rooting out any little plants that continue to sprout from the bad seed still in the ground. After this first good weeding it should be much easier, but surely it cannot be altogether neglected, as that will be a problem area for some time to come, as is that part of our hearts previously overgrown with sin but from which we have now repented. At the same time I must be careful to cultivate and feed and water the good grass that is beginning to take root and grow up in place of the weeds, so that in time it will be dominant and choke out the weeds, rather than the weeds choking out the good life as it has been until now.
And so I prayed: O Dear Father, shine upon our hearts the brightness of your truth and grant us Your grace to discover and root out every sin that defiles, every small inclination to sin, every impure thought or motive, even every action which is questionable. May we always give you the benefit of the doubt and err on the side of caution lest we allow some small weed to grow up in our lives which will then be all the more difficult to remove and which may indeed have the potential to choke out the spiritual life You are cultivating in our hearts. And dear Father, even where our hearts are so overgrown that it seems an impossible task, grant us your grace to work patiently in repenting of even the smallest of sins. For we know, O Lord, that as are the weeds in my lot, so too are our sins in Your sight, so very many in number. Help us to root out those sins, and cause the good plantings of grace and truth and righteousness to grow up in their place to such an extent that they will choke out any weeds so that such weeds will no longer have a place in our hearts. Cause us to grow up as trees of righteousness that will bear much fruit to Your glory. And please, when You come looking for that fruit, may it be there. Water us with Your word, and let the dew of Your Spirit fall upon us that we might become the rich planting You desire. Make us Your servants O God we pray. Amen.
September 16, 2000
Today as I was out working in the garden the Lord showed me some additional insights about the weeds in our spiritual gardens. I was quite surprised at the number of weeds that had come up. I recently planted a cover crop after tilling in some manure and compost. Evidently there was a lot of grass and weed seeds in with the manure, because these were coming up in fair abundance along with the hairy vetch I had planted. It also rained quite heavily a few weeks ago so that whatever weed and grass seeds were already in the soil also had occasion to sprout. And because of the busy-ness of school starting I had not had time to get out there and get them any sooner than today.
One thing this brought to mind was how the pleasant rains the Lord sends for our spiritual growth may also cause any bad seeds left in our hearts to sprout up as well–for example pride and greed and selfish ambition.
I was also reminded how important it is to nourish the garden of our hearts with the good and pure fertilizer of the truth of His word, and not that which is contaminated with the persuasive arguments and philosophy and empty deceptions which are according to the traditions of men. For like those weed seeds in the manure I put on my garden so also do these often come surrounded by a great deal of truth, which truth we even seek out to apply for the growth of God’s good seed in our hearts. We must therefore be careful to use only the best fertilizer–that which comes from those of the Lord’s flock who have grazed in the finest of pastures, which are those that have not been sown with diverse kinds of seed (cf. Dt 22:9). In such days as our own when it seems such pastures and flocks hardly exist, we must at the very least take care to compost such teachings in the high temperatures of meditative thought over a period of time so as to destroy any weed seeds. For it is not always possible to root out the weed seeds once they have sprouted and are growing amongst the good seed, lest the good plantings also be rooted up (Mt 13:29).
I was also reminded about our need to not allow the duties and responsibilities of this life to distract us from the need to continually be going over our gardens to root out any weeds that may be sprouting. For it is quite surprising how quickly they will grow up if we neglect this task for only a short time. I felt somewhat disheartened by the number of weeds that had grown up, but soon found that by diligent effort it was possible to work my way over the garden and indeed clean out the garden with great effect. I also noticed that some weeds were quite large and that by removing those I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought and it went quicker than I expected.
I also noticed that no matter how carefully I tried to go over an area, when I went over it again I noticed that there were still weeds that I had missed the first time and to which I was completely blind, but which my eye began to notice as time went on due to the practice of distinguishing between the good and the bad plants. In this the Lord reminded me of the need to in the same way train our senses to discern good and evil, in order that we might become mature and partake of the solid food that will lead us on to perfection in Christ (Heb 5:11-14, 6:1).
Dear Father, how I thank you for these teachings about the weeds in our gardens. I pray you would continue to remove every bad seed left in my heart lest the rain you send for my spiritual growth also cause them to sprout and grow up also. And I pray you would provide good fertilizer for the seed you have sown in my heart, and not that which has been defiled by the subtle perversions of your truth by men. Please continually remind me of the need to be going over our hearts to remove any weeds that may be sprouting, and encourage me that it is not a hopeless task, but that in your grace we are more than able to completely root out all those weeds in our gardens, which task might otherwise seem impossible. And finally dear Father, by such practice train our senses to discern good and evil, that we might press on to maturity and partake of the solid food of your word through which I have faith you will perfect the good work you have begun in us. I love you Lord. Amen.
March 7, 2005
Over the past several years I have experienced the blessing of having taken the time to rid my yard and garden of the weeds that were once so abundant. Where once there were so many goatheads in our back lawn area that I despaired they might choke out the tiny blades of grass coming up, now the grass is firmly established and we seldom find a goathead in the yard at all. Because of the many good things growing up, whether grass in the yard or crops in the garden, it is now hard for any weeds to take hold, for the good things growing up consume all the nutrients and water that is available, leaving little for the weeds. And where some of the more minor weeds do take hold is not in the center of our yard or garden, but on the edges, where there is little water for them to grow and they are easily removed without serious harm to the good plants we are cultivating for our enjoyment and pleasure. All this is a parable of our spiritual life. For so it is that as we cleanse our hearts from sin through repentance and allow the imperishable seed of God’s word to become established in the center of our lives, we are blessed with lives that are fruitful to the Master and not encumbered with the sins that so easily entangle us. For rather than infesting the center of our lives as a plague upon our joy and peace, sin becomes relegated more and more to the periphery where there is little water for it to grow and it is more easily removed without serious harm to all that has become our life and health and peace.
And yet yesterday as I was working outside, I was reminded how important it is to not neglect the weeds even along the periphery of our yard and garden. For last year I noticed that there was one or two dandelions growing along the edge. I was too busy doing other things at the time (the worries of this life!) and had become lax on weeding because everything was growing so well, so that I didn’t take care of them but forgot about them. I did notice later though that they had gone to seed, so that I thought at the time, “Oops! Now I’m going to have a bigger problem”. And sure enough, this spring I had quite a few dandelions spread here and there, not just along the edge, but also throughout the center of the good grass, so that as a result I had to spend much more time and effort going over the whole yard to get rid of them, with the inevitable result that it was also damaging to the good grass. I’m sure it was also made worse by the fact that we had experienced an extensive drought over the past years so that even with the irrigation the good plants were not as strong and healthy as they are when there is plenty of rain from heaven. In the same way it is so easy to neglect small sins on the periphery of our lives and suppose that because we have grown strong in the Lord and they are not posing an immediate threat that we don’t need to deal with them. And yet all it takes is one season of neglect for them to go to seed and spread so much of their pernicious fruit that it is inevitable some will take root even in the center of our lives—and all the more easily if we are already stressed by a time of spiritual drought. As a result, these sins become more difficult to repent of, and in doing so it is inevitable that our Christian character will be damaged, for it is painful to admit our faults, even if only to ourselves. Indeed, the task may seem so daunting that we are tempted to continue to neglect it. And yet if left to themselves our sins will continue to spread just like dandelions in our yards or weeds in our garden, so that in just a short time what was once a pleasant and fruitful yard or garden will become so infested with weeds that it is in danger of being abandoned as no longer useful. “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (Heb 6:7-8).
O Dear Father, thank you for all that you teach us. How I pray that I would always endeavor to keep the garden of my life thoroughly weeded of sin. For surely there is no sin so small, even on the periphery of our lives that we can neglect for long without potential harm to our souls. Guard my heart from being weighed down with the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things. For not one of Your many good promises have failed, so that we are blessed in this Your kingdom into which you have led us. We have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them. You have multiplied all that we have, so that now I see the great danger about which You warned, that our hearts should become proud and we forget the Lord our God. How easy it is for our sinful hearts to suppose that because You have made us strong and filled the center of our lives with all the blessings of heaven that those small sins on the fringes of our lives are no longer of consequence. We are tempted by the greatness of our blessings, and the seeming smallness of our sins, to neglect those weeds until they have gone to seed and scattered their evil fruit more widely in our hearts. So, Lord, purify our hearts from edge to edge and corner to corner. Fill our hearts with the knowledge of Your truth and so train our senses to discern every weed. And by Your grace may we always be diligent to remove even those that seem so small and insignificant from the periphery of our lives. I praise You and I love You dear Lord. Amen.
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