Today I was working in the garden, picking green beans. Being thankful for a little invention called a Garden Rocking Seat. This makes picking beans SOOO much easier on my back. It is a little stool that has a type of rocker foot on the bottom and it is wonderful! Word of advice: Make sure you are sitting on it correctly. If you turn it around and sit on it backwards, whoopsie! You can end up flat on your back in the garden :) I speak from experience :)
I really like working in the garden...even weeding. I like using the hoe...my husband bought me my own hoe...but he uses it most of the time. So today I got it out to use it while he was at work. I started hoeing at the weeds, careful to not hurt the plants. There were quite a few weeds because of all the rain we had been having. After a certain amount of time, I switched arms to relieve the tension. After a while longer, I straightened up to ease my back pain. I thought about all the weeds and how they just suck the life away from the vegetable plants.
Been going through a situation in my own life where I have run into some weeds. And, though, I would love to get the hoe out and just chop away and dig them out and throw them to die in the sun....that can't happen right now. I am thinking that the weeds were made by God just like the vegetable plants were. He knew that they would choke out the life in other plants that were wanted by the gardeners. He knew that. It was one of the curses of getting cast out of Eden, to have to battle the weeds...both in the garden and in life. Some people can be weeds. See where I am going with this?
But people are alive...well, so are weeds. So I am following this little analogy along in my head...if the "weedy" people are the ones we want to dig up and cast out...why can't they grow in the garden with the plants that we are putting tender care to? For one reason, they will overrun the garden and choke the life out of it. Weedy people do that too. If a person tries to suck out the good of young people, I consider that person a weed. Weeds have their place...in places where nothing else is growing...vacant lots...along the roadsides....abandoned places. But who wants weeds growing alongside their prize vegetables and flowers? No one. That is why there is no place for weeds in a garden and why so much time is spent in getting them out. So that the fruitful plants can grow unhindered. In our children's lives, we need to weed out the people who are choking them. We are the gardeners for our children, we tend to them. As gardeners, we need to weed things out of our own lives as well that are choking out our relationship with the Lord.
So I am chopping and scraping and hacking at the weeds with great vigor...thinking of one particular weed I would like to get to. It is hard work...taking the weeds out. Sometimes it hurts. I have blisters on my hands now where I was working so hard.
A weed starts out tiny...one here or there...but if not checked...if not controlled...the weeds will take over.
If you want to live in a beautiful garden, you can bet that you had better be a fruitful plant...not a weed.
Do you know that in Matthew 13 Jesus tells a story about weeds? He says that a a man sowed good wheat seed into his field. But, while the people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds in his wheat field. What a creep! So as the wheat began to grow the weeds grew too. The man's servants came to him and said, There are weeds growing in the wheat field!! Didn't you plant wheat?
Yes, yes, I did, the man said. An enemy has done this!
The servants asked if they should pull up the weeds. But this man said, No because you may uproot the wheat as well. Wait until the harvest. Then the harvesters will harvest the weeds first and put them into bundles to be burned, and afterwards they will harvest the wheat and store it in my barn.
So, Jesus goes on to explain that He is the man who sows the good seed and the enemy is Satan who is sowing the weeds. The harvest is the end of time and the harvesters are angels.
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!" Matthew 13:41-43
(That's a true story from the Word of God.)
After my hoeing in the garden, I went in to make supper using some of the fresh veggies that we had harvested.
After supper, my husband and I went back into the garden to tie up the tomato plants.
I love the smell of tomato plants. When you pull back the leaves to search for the small green tomatoes that are growing, when you feel the fuzzy stalk, the scent left on your hands is pungent, spicy, a hint of what is to come as the tomatoes ripen. My husband drove stakes of steel and wood into the ground as close to the plant as he could without harming the plant.
*Sometimes it feels as if we are having stakes driven into us and all around us and it can be scary.*
Then he gave me the string and said for me to tie them up. So I cut and tied, cut and tied, cut and tied. He turned back after a while and came to me and said, No, this way.
My pride jolted out of its cage and gave him a knock, I know how to tie up a plant.
My loving husband said to me, I just want to teach you the right way to do it, so your plant will grow.
He proceeded to show me that I had tied my strings too tightly to the plant and the stake. One plant I had even tied it so that it would grow down instead of up. He gently cut the strings I had tied and retied them, looser, bigger, and directing the plants upwards.
See, he said, it is more like a basket holding the plants than binding them to the stake.
*Oh, it didn't hit me then...but tonight it hit me hard. With my children, my teaching and training needs to be like that...not tied so hard to the exact details of how I want them to grow. Just tied enough to guide them in that way but allow them to reach to the sun on their own. They need the stakes and the strings to guide them in the right direction. But the strings need to be loose enough for them to grow fully and I need to make sure I am pointing my plants up...and my children up to the Lord...so that they can take off on their own, following the Son, reaching up to Him, and bearing fruit for Him.*
I noticed that sometimes a branch would be broken...
Oh, the wind did that ...or a deer...or the goat...or sadly, by the gardener in trying to tie the strings too tightly.
The plant will survive , even if maimed, if it is fertilized and watered and fed and the weeds kept out. But it will not look the way it did.
Our children can still produce fruit ...even if a weedy person gets in the way here and there...even if a mom ties the strings too tightly...even if life's circumstances are difficult...as long as they always reach up...up towards the heavens...up towards the sun, towards life, towards God.
My lesson...keep the weeds out as much as I can. Cultivate my garden. Train the plants, or the children, and let them bloom and reach to the sky where God waits. Guide without crushing. Crush the weeds, not the plants. And know that all life is given by the Lord... and that He will sort out (in the end) all the weeds.
I know it isn't a perfect analogy...but it was what I needed to hear.