I eagerly began a flowerbed rejuvenation process at the farm early Saturday morning hoping to beat the heat. However, since I don’t work nearly as fast as I used to, sweat soaked through my t-shirt well into the afternoon.
I would have finished much sooner had I been content with attacking flowerbeds like the men in my family. They happily use the weed-eater to “get rid” of the weeds. Afterwards, they throw on some mulch, and “Voila!” it’s on to the next project.
Me? I want to yank out every stinking weed by its hairy root and dare it to pop up again. Only when every blade of grass and pesky weed has been removed am I content to plant a few new flowers and lay down a fresh layer of sweet-smelling mulch.
If you contrasted my finished flowerbeds with those of my menfolk you wouldn’t notice any difference at all – for a few days. That’s when all those roots left in the ground would sprout new weeds that would quickly overtake the whole bed again. Yet, root-yanking allows only a few stragglers to shove their scrawny heads above the mulch.
Saturday, as sweat dripped off the end of my nose, I thought about how those flowerbeds illustrate two opposing attitudes toward life. (There’s a lot of thinking time when you’re pulling weeds.)
On one hand, we may let people, circumstances, or our own desires get the best of us. Negative emotions like disappointment, resentment, and unforgiveness may unfortunately bury long, gnarly roots we can’t muster the willingness, courage, or the energy to jerk out. Some of them have been there so long that our pride sees them as what’s held us together rather than what’s been choking us all along.
On the other hand, our souls can grow healthier and remain consistently peaceful when we choose to pull the weeds of difficult relationships, unsettling circumstances, and/or haughty spirits. Clean hearts give God space to plant a supernatural love for others that takes our eyes off of ourselves and places them squarely on the needs of others. It even allows us to love them the way they need to be loved, rather than trying to express love in ways that only make sense to us.
What’s your longest, gnarliest root? Have you given it any thought? No doubt, all of the conflict in our world right now has uncovered a few of your not-so-healthy roots. I know they have mine. Hopefully, you’re tugging on a few of those now. Pay attention when you repetitively get an “uneasy feeling” about someone or a particular circumstance. It might be the Spirit trying to help you identify a trouble spot. Be patient with yourself and everyone else. It’s quite a process! Don’t give up.
I decided after emptying bag after bag of mulch on Saturday that mulch is a whole lot like love; it covers a multitude of sins! Sure, they both make things look prettier on the outside, but they also provide many internal benefits. Both are essential to surviving a drought. Both keep the good roots cool when things heat up. They help break up the hard clumps, provide nutrients, and hold onto the moisture from the heavens. Most of all, both make it easier to spot any weeds that pop up so they can be pulled quickly. Our gardens need mulch, but we need love more.
I don’t know how much Peter knew about mulch, but I do know he knew what it felt like to have his weeds pulled. He understood the importance of getting rid of the weeds in his life so he could get on with loving the people around him and glorifying the One who had shown him great love.
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be alert and sober-minded for prayer. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”1 Peter 4:7-11, CSB