Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Last week I found myself in a battle with unsightly intruders in our backyard. All summer long we’d kept up with the mowing & watering & weeding…in general. But with many other scheduled obligations, plus 8 weeks of company, we couldn’t give any prolonged attention to outside maintenance. Then one day, I looked out the window & realized we had some overrun areas & taller additions blending in with, what used to be, attractive foliage. Our focus was truly captured when Packer, our retriever, started showing up, daily, with matted fur due to something embedding itself in his coat. We’d never seen these stickers before, in the 5 years living in our home.
Our backyard isn’t that big. But the previous owner did some detailed landscaping complete with limestone rock borders. When we bought the house, the backyard was part of the “wow” factor. It was picturesque! When something looks that beautiful, there’s bound to be some work connected with it. There has been, & always will be, if we want it to look anything like its original condition. So, my daughter & I worked a combined total of 6 hours-- pulling, raking & trimming. By the time we finished, we had filled 4 (33 gallon) trash bags with weeds.
In this long, sweaty process, we found the culprit causing the problems for Packer. The source was the property of the unoccupied house next door. The encroaching “stick” weeds had worked their way through our fencing & spread along the border, moving inward. This weed looks innocent enough at first glance. But with no forewarning at all, soft pine- like needles attach themselves to you, by a flower-like head. In one quick walk through, you come out looking like a mini porcupine! These pesky 1” shooters covered our shirts, pants, gloves & shoes. We would’ve laughed at the sight of ourselves, except, given the duration of the task, it didn’t seem funny at the time. It was annoying & irritating. The only way to rid yourself of them is removing them by hand. Tape doesn’t work. Lint rollers don’t work. Rubbing doesn’t work. And in Packer’s case, a scissors was necessary to cut out spots of hopelessly knotted fur.
Most weeds ruin the intended landscape. I got to thinking about weeds in daily life, spiritual deterrents of sorts, that thwart God’s purposeful landscaping of our lives. Though not as obvious as the outside of an empty house, the influences of a world opposed to Biblical truth, unsightly destructive flesh patterns, and believing Satan’s lies, can quickly birth a weed proliferation that overruns the terrain of our souls (mind, will & emotions). It happens overnight if we aren’t on guard. You know what I mean. We’re all capable of succumbing to sin in a 2-second blink! A weed sprouts. Unfavorable circumstances rain down. We tire of soul-tending. Before you know it, the Spirit’s work is being smothered by the enemy. I John 2:15-17 warns us not to love the world. (Really poignant verses. Check them out.) Galatians 5 says the deeds of the flesh are “evident” (15 actions noted) in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. (vs 22 & 23). And I Peter 5 instructs us to be “sober & alert,” because the enemy is always prowling, like a lion, in the hopes of devouring us.
Thankfully, our heavenly Father is the best Garden Specialist ever! With Jesus Christ as the vine & born-again believers as the branches, He intentionally cuts off the branches that don’t bear fruit, & carefully prunes those that do bear fruit. This is done so the fruitful branches can bear even more. We can only produce by continual abiding because, apart from Jesus, we can do nothing! If we stay attached to Him, we are blessed with answered prayers, the Father is glorified, & we prove we are His disciples. (John 15:1-8) The pruning process rarely ever feels good. Generally, we don’t even recognize our need to be “cut back,” until after it happens. But God sees the bigger picture. And when we yield to His care, our lives will be tended, protected & maintained. “And the Lord will continually guide you, & satisfy your desire in scorched places, & give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, & like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)