Growing up in Southern California, I didn’t really know anything about Spring. We lived in one continual season of sun/fog — either one occurring at any point during the year. Watching everything die and completely go dormant during the winter was a completely new experience for me. But even more shocking? Before the tiniest leaf bud starts forming on a hardy Oak, even before the grass has fully transitioned back from brown to bright green, the weeds come back in full force.
Our first year here I was amazed to see the multitude of dandelions that sprouted up out of nowhere. The creeping charlie vines that would appear in the strangest places. The clover that would dominate the newly revived lawn. It was an amazing sight to behold, but I didn’t give too much thought to all those weeds until we became homeowners. I am a yellow thumb at best when it comes to gardening — I don’t kill everything like a brown thumb, but things don’t exactly prosper under my watch. And that’s primarily due to weeds. They are everywhere. They are constant. They are fast-growing and undeterred by bad weather or poison. These weeds are an eye-sore, and they also prevent my garden plants from being completely healthy. They steal nutrients and life from the soil that was meant for my vegetable plants.
I recently spent a good two hours in my yard attacking the weeds that have already appeared in the two weeks since it stopped snowing around these parts. We have a large garden covered in gravel, and boy do those weeds just LOOOOVE my gravel. The crabgrass has one thick, deep, white root that shoots straight into the ground. And if you don’t eradicate it before the yellow flower turns into a white, fluffy, seed monster — it spreads its seeds everywhere and propagates with the vigor of bunnies. Creeping charlie is much easier to pull out, but it spreads in a shallow layer — shooting out into all directions making it impossible to determine whether you’ve removed it all. Our gravel area even has a few patches of grass that pop up — normally I’d be happy to see grass, but in this context even it is a weed.
I’m guessing you can see where this is going. As I crouched over my gravel garden with my sharp gardening tools, minute by minute stabbing at those weeds and pulling them up by their roots a thought came to me. This gravel pit is so much like my heart. Before I know it, my heart is dominated by sin that winds its way around like a resilient weed. It happens quickly and unexpectedly and constantly. Even when we’ve taken every precaution, laying down weed covering underneath the rocks, the weeds still make their way through. The only thing we can do is pay close attention to our hearts and work on getting those weeds out before they can spread their disease.
Oddly enough, weeds can even be beautiful. My kids keep getting mad at me for pulling up all these beautiful yellow flowers. But what they don’t know is that those flowers are not good for my garden. Even things that look pretty can become detrimental to our souls. Even good things like family, hard work, or feeling loved can choke out our hearts when they are allowed to take over.
Pulling up weeds is a labor intensive business. It is slow and painful and tedious work. The second you are done, you’ll have to start over again. There will always be new weeds. While I am in charge of getting those darn weeds out of my garden, I am so thankful that I am not alone when it comes to my heart. Jesus is our ever patient Gardener, guiding our shovels to just the right spots. He gives wisdom, strength, grace, and forgiveness in this process with our hearts. But he refuses to leave us as we are — covered in weeds and choked out plants. That process can be painful, but he wants us to bear fruit and to be freed from weeds. That’s what wants for us. Freedom. What a beautiful and gracious thing.