My husband and I were out of town last week and the yard was on its own. Because Tuesday’s downpour precluded much investigation, we hesitantly ventured out yesterday to scope out our future for the next 6 months. Wow. All I can say is that the weeds behaved like a defiant teenager having a wild party while mom and dad were out of town– the growth was larger, stronger and more sprawling than in past years. Basically, our yard resembled a jungle and I was half expecting Tarzan to call out while swinging from a vine twisted on a branch one of our black walnut trees.
We slapped on our work clothes and shoes and got to work. Blaise was on the mower and I began digging dandelions and other non-flowers that wedged themselves between the delicate leaves of future Irises, and some that began growing between the branches and shoots of every single perennial on our property. After about 5 hours of digging and pulling, I stood back to take a look and was horrified to see that I had barely made a dent in the project. As a distraction, I grabbed the scythe and chopped down hundreds of black raspberry vines that always bother our grandchildren as they walk the trails in our woods with me. If it were just us, we’d let them grow and harvest the raspberries, but these are our grandchildren and we don’t want them getting pierced by those sharp barbs.
With so much time bent over the weeds, my mind wandered to scripture passages of the same. In Matthew 13, Christ gives us the Parable of the Sower and the Seed in which the sower throws his seed on four types of ground. In verse 7, the seed falls among thorns. Thorns are nothing more than prickly weeds. In the Bible, seventeen different Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe weeds, though they are often translated as “thorns,” “thistles,” “briers,” and the like.
What do weeds do? They choke, entangle, and steal. They hinder fruit from maturing. They may not necessarily stop growth, but they can slow it down to the point that fruit never ripens. The spiritual parallels are evident and made me aware of the many times, the weeds, which are my sin or apathy have prevented me from “ripening” into the person God envisions.
Each of the various soils represent our receptivity to God’s will and word. Note the seeds were identical, yet flourished only in receptive soil. Notably, even the seeds which flourished were subject to the same volatile weather of storm and shadow.
Jesus likens the first seeds and soil to those who hear the gospel but allow the wayside of the wicked world to “catch away” that which was sown (Matt 13:19). The second group represent those who receive the gospel with joy but allow trials or persecution to offend them (13:20-21). The third group represent those who hear the word but allow thorny riches and the deceit of the world to choke their tender testimonies (13:22).
The seed sown in “good ground” represents those who hear, understand and obey the word, bringing forth a varying yield of fruit in abundance (Matt 13:23).
Every day we have to “hoe” our spiritual garden. While prayer and scripture study is necessary to Christian growth, we also need to go even further and fight, and root out the weeds. Is that television show, novel, video game, or sportscast an entanglement? Are we spending too much time trying to “make it” or “get ahead” or “keep up with the Joneses”? Do we allow ourselves to become easily sidetracked by “little things”? While sleeping late instead of getting up early to pray, is spotted spurge creeping over our fruit?
It’s good to ask now and then, “Am I asleep?” If not asleep, ask, “Am I coasting?” Perhaps like me, you have allowed other pursuits to crowd out higher, spiritual priorities. If so, wade into your overgrown garden and begin pulling out weeds by the fistful and just watch your garden grow!