I like to affectionately call the landscaping near our front porch “the flower pit”.
At any given point since we’ve moved here, you never quite can tell what exists in the flower pit. Thick with leaves, weeds and flowers in there somewhere, I knew I had to do something when the overgrown rose bush started to take over the porch. I didn’t want anyone to get caught in the thorns en route to the front door, so action became necessary.
Gardening of any sort is not my specialty. In fact, I like to avoid lawn maintenance whenever possible, except the length of the grass. I think it’s because I have flashbacks from childhood of having to weed endless flower beds, or even worse to pick peas and green beans from our garden again and again and again. Incidentally, I detest peas and green beans to this day. Maybe home ownership will change all this, as I have already started dreaming about the yard and landscaping of our new house.
With my mission clear, I made Matt find work gloves for me, I suited up in old clothes and doused myself with bug spray. Though I needed garden shears, I used plain old scissors and began to work on the edges of the flower pit. I made sure to take care to watch for anything that moved, because Matt claims he saw a couple of garter snakes in the pit once when he was mowing, and I’ve seen some lizards and other vermin in the area. I pulled and pulled and snipped and clipped, and pretty soon, the pit began to have some definition once again. Irises reappeared, and I even discovered a blackberry bush in the middle of the pit, which I opted not to pull out. The rose offshoots got a major trim. Matt flushed out a big hole (where who knows what resided), and stones were placed over the entrance. Finally, a flower garden emerged.
I piled the weeds in the driveway, and it looked like there was as much in that mass as was now growing in the pit.
Looking at the pile, I realized how out-of-control the flower pit had become. Flower gardens truly need regular maintainance, or they quickly are overtaken. Growth has to be watched carefully, and even pruned, for the best results.
Pruning and weeding are often avoided in our spiritual lives. Maybe we think it is easier to flip on auto-pilot and go through the motions. We love to see the flowers bloom and God work miracles, but sin gets thorny and we just avoid dealing with it. Weeds creep into our hearts, and we let it go until it becomes a major issue we must address. Why do we do this, knowing that daily, consistent maintenance will provide a flourishing, satisfying, exciting relationship with God?
After surveying my weed and brush pile, Matt decided that he would burn it. He literally used an entire bottle of lighter fluid to get the flames to consume the pile.
Someday, our works will go through the same kind of test.
For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to God’s grace that was given to me, as a skilled master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid—that is, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.
– I Corinthians 3: 9-15
What we build spiritually matters and will be tested. At our final judgment, I want to have produced gold, silver and costly stones that are refined by the fire, rather than wood, hay and stubble that will perish in the flames. I want to offer my life as an offering to the Lord that He will find pleasing.
Being a Christian isn’t a one-time decision. It is a way of life that demands daily maintenance to thrive. Where is your spiritual life overgrown and unkempt? Where is sin creeping up and choking out your passion and zeal for the Lord?
If we want to thrive and be all God created us to be, spiritual weeding and pruning are necessary.