Pulling Weeds

I’ve been pulling weeds a lot lately…so much so that I have dreams about pulling large weeds out of my lawn.  I kid you not.  I see their long tentacles grasping the life out of my sweet little grass and I must pull!  Apparently it is a cathartic exercise for me because I can really get carried away with my war against weeds.  It’s a war I’m loosing by the way.  My poor, poor sweet grass has been choked out of existence by those nasty things.

I was thinking about how much I like pulling up those weeds when I realized that there really is some serious spiritual application to the removal of weeds.  Jesus spoke about it in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  Jesus refers to thorns which choke the grain and it yields no fruit.  I, thankfully, am not pulling up thorns because that would make my impromptu weed yanking forays very painful!  But I believe that the idea of the thorns choking the grain is worth a second look.

It is easy in this single parent life to let the cares of this world creep in and steal our joy, our peace, and our hope.  There are more than enough cares to go around.  There are more than enough joy stealers and peace thieves in a day. And hope is hard to come by when each day begins and ends with challenges.

That grain being choked by thorns, sounds a lot like me being overwhelmed by life.  I can almost feel myself gasping for breath in a mad struggle to free myself from things I can’t seem to overcome.  They hurt and chaff and scrape and stab and all the while I’m straining, pulling, pushing, and crying out for help.  It truly is a devastating picture of a life lived without the hope and peace of Christ.

All the while I”m struggling, my Master Gardener is there waiting patiently for me to rest for a bit and allow Him to do His work.  I can do nothing but strain and occasionally yank off a leaf or tangled stem, while He can pull the weeds up by the roots – eliminating their strangle hold on me.  I even hold tightly to some in hopes that I might master them, but God says, “Let me have them all – even the ones that might hurt you to remove.”  Pruning is never easy.

As I have looked at my lawn – with dismay I might add – I see so many different kinds of weeds.  There are giant ones which multiply by the minute and tangle their stems in amongst my grass, killing it and anything else in its wake.  Those are the worst.  I think those are things like fear and bitterness and anger which can penetrate every area of our lives and destroy.  They are like poison to our souls.  Those need to be yanked up by the root – the big root and all the little ones that have taken place as a result of the tentacles that reach out from the weed.  Isn’t it the truth that once you have allowed anger to take root, it shows itself in every aspect of your life?  Setting up camp in areas you never thought you would struggle?  It makes sense for the betrayal you have suffered to affect some relationships, but does it have to impact all issues of trust in your life?  No, but if it isn’t dealt with at the root, it most likely will.

Then there are those blasted prickly weeds. Those need some protection like a nice pretty pair of gardening gloves to be yanked.  I believe that might be things we struggle with in which the protection of a good friend would be helpful.  My prayer/accountability partner has been invaluable in helping me face those thorny weeds in my life.  With God’s help, she has willingly donned her protective gear and helped me extricate myself from some thorny life circumstances and situations.

There are some weeds that are beautiful to look at but their end result is just the same as all the ugly invasive ones. Pretty and invasive kills the grass just as effective as ugly and invasive.  I have heard often that saying, “good is the enemy of best.”  Might that not be these weeds?  Although you know I have debated the clover – it’s green, it covers the ground nicely, and it has pretty flowers a couple of times a year.  I think in my life clover might be those things that take time away from the really important things – those weeds of activity and work which keep me distracted from the most imperative calling of my life – motherhood.  I’ve been struck like a weed whacker with how abysmal my efforts to talk about the Lord with my children have been.  I mean, they know what I believe and my desire to live a godly life…but I don’t really share all the wonderful things God reveals to me, or bring them to scripture as often as I should.  I’m so busy being busy, I forget.  Actually it’s worse than forgetting, I just don’t do it.  God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)  I am not discouraged by that command…it looks to me like God just wants us to live out our faith in word and action before our kids.  I can do that.  I might have to think a bit more about it, get in the habit of it, but I can do that!  I just need to do it. Maybe I could consider not stressing so much about the house in favor of some time with my children?  Definitely need some assistance from God on that good idea!

I began this post sitting in my yard – just me and the weeds – and the temptation to put this computer down and begin my tugging mission again was strong.  Then I looked at my finger nails, or what’s left of them, and I think that there might be a better way.  Although I do love to yank those things!

When it comes to the weeds in my life, I know that God is going to have to deal with them in order for me to overcome them.  It is going to be a bit painful I’m sure — I’ll be stretched and pulled and maybe I’ll lose a leaf or stalk along the way, but in the hands of the Master Gardener I am not afraid.  He is good at what He does.

There are some pretty little dandelions which want me to dig them up so I must be going.

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Accepting Good Gifts

Why is it that sometimes when God answers a prayer, it is so difficult to accept it without questions or doubts?  To believe that God loves you enough to bless you so much?

For the past several years I have prayed many prayers…placed many requests at the foot of the throne of grace.  I have asked for more things than I can possibly share in a few short words.

Recently God has answered one of my prayers in a very real and in my face kind of way…and yet, I still doubt if the gift is indeed for me.  I still question whether this is something that God would want to do for me.

But God does love to give His children good gifts…”if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:11

I love that God gives good gifts, but I have to be honest and tell you that I really wanted to leave out the “who are evil” part of that verse and replace it with “…”  That is just like me to avoid the part that is uncomfortable.  I do understand what Jesus is saying though.  He is comparing us with God – and really there is no comparison.  We are terribly flawed and God is awesomely perfect.

For example, our gifts are most often given because it’s expected, or we feel obligated, or we are hoping to be rewarded in some way.  Not that there aren’t times when we just really want to bless someone and our motives are pure.  But if we honestly looked at ourselves we could most definitely NOT say our motives are basically always pure, because they very rarely are.

BUT God…now that’s another story.  He is all good and all love.  There is not a selfish motive in Him.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  James 1:17

God’s character does not change.  His word is faithful and true.  So if God says He loves to give me good gifts who am I to question Him?  If it is His good and perfect will that I be blessed with answered prayers, why do I not revel in the joy of it?  Instead I choose to doubt…to doubt His everlasting love for me…to doubt He would plan good things for me…to doubt that He can indeed turn my mourning to dancing.

God has more than revealed that He is faithful and good to me.

I am choosing to trust that my God loves me.  I am choosing to be thankful for answered prayer and good gifts.  I am choosing to be excited as I watch His plan for my life unfold.

I am choosing Him.