Monday, July 9, 2012

Recognizing Weeds

This spring, I moved our vegetable garden from the back yard to the side of our house.  I already had asparagus and chives planted there, so I moved the strawberries, and added tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and parsley.

Everything is doing very well, especially a pricker that was in the center of the yard.

I saw this pricker bush there this spring, and since we have some roses and some raspberries, I reasoned that perhaps it was one of those.  I decided not to pull it up, but to leave it and see what beautiful thing grew on the prickly vines.

Well, nothing grew there but leaves.  And the vine somehow attracted a very tall overgrown asparagus and pulled it toward the tomatoes, then attached itself to the tomato plant, creating a very effective fence in the middle of my garden.

This enabled more and more weeds to grow, because there was quite an area that I couldn't reach without extreme discomfort.

So today, I enlisted the help of my he-man husband, and we dug out that bush and hauled it out of the yard.

I can't say that I finished weeding the garden, but you can actually walk through it, now, and I did get quite a lot done.

How did this happen?  I didn't recognize this weed for what it was.  I thought it was harmless.  I thought it might be good in the end.  It looked like other plants I had that were not weeds.

A weed is essentially a plant that doesn't belong where it is.  It may or not be harmful, in and of itself, but can cause damage if left somewhere it doesn't belong, like a vegetable garden.  I have a patch of Brown-eyed Susans in the front of my house.  They're beautiful there.  But they spread all over the place and can take over the vegetables in my garden if I let them get in there.

Jesus told a parable in Matthew, chapter 13.  He spoke of a sower sowing seeds.  The seeds fell various places, with various results.  Verse 7 reads:  "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them."   Later, in verse 22 he explains how this related to the people:  "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."

The world has many cares, and many riches.  It is easy to be choked by them without even realizing it.  After all, we have to live in the world.  We have to take care of our homes and our families.  We feel that we need some pleasures in life.

I don't think God expects us to go around in sackcloth and ashes all the time.  He promises to give us good gifts if we ask him (Matthew 7:11).  But we have to learn to identify the weeds before they choke us.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I loved reading romance novels.  It was so enjoyable to get lost in the story, and imagine the handsome man on the white horse coming to take me away.  At some point, I realized that there were things in those books that a Christian shouldn't be reading about.  So I started reading Christian romance novels instead.

These books didn't include the promiscuous scenes, so I thought I had found a good substitute.  And then I got married.  For some reason, my husband wasn't quite like the oh-so-perfect men in the books.  And I began to feel discontent with my own marriage.

And then I recognized the weeds.  I don't think there's anything wrong with Christian romance novels. They are enjoyable, wholesome books which can teach Godly values, and sometimes present the gospel.  However, they had become overgrown thorns that were choking my marriage.

We have to be careful.  Those little things which we think are okay can entangle us.  The people in the parable weren't at fault for ignoring the word, but for letting the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches, or things, choke it out so that they became unfruitful.

We need to be careful about being unfruitful.  In the 21st chapter of Matthew, Jesus was walking with his disciples into the city of Bethany, and he was hungry.  "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.  And presently the fig tree withered away." (verse 19).  John 15:1-2 reads:  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.

I do not want to be withered, or taken away from Jesus.  So I will continue to look for those thorns that threaten to choke me, and I won't be fooled by the thorn bush in my garden again!

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