This is my garden. It's not pretty, is it? How did it get this way? The short answer is neglect. I neglected to clean up the garden last fall before winter set in. I neglected to apply a thick layer of mulch to keep the weeds at bay, or at least reduce the number of weeds to sprout. I didn't get out in late winter/early spring to pull them out while they were young and tender and their tap roots weren't so deep in the ground. It would've been much easier if I had. I just didn't keep up with it. It would've been so much easier. You'd think I would know that by now. After all, this is not my first rodeo (or even my second).
The only real option at this point was to dig them out, making sure to get the tap root so they didn't come back with a vengeance. Some of these were single weeds, but most were clumps. One root, many stalks. I had to dig deep to get the root. It was hard on my back, my legs, my hands. It was dirty. It was itchy, even though I had on gloves. It was sweaty and I'm not a fan of sweat. It was hot work, hard labor.
Just like these weeds grew up in my garden plot because of neglect, sin grows in my heart and life because of neglect. I don't read my Bible. I don't allow God's words of life to flow in and through my heart and mind. I'm not focusing on God, but on my problems. I'm not choosing to see the best in situations. I'm not getting the rest I need. I become self-focused. I become grumpy. I become unhappy and lose my joy. The things of this world crowd in and crowd God out of my life.
Then, just like all the hard work I had to put into ridding my garden of these weeds, I have to work even harder to eliminate the weeds out of my heart. It's hard work. It's painful. It's dirty work. When those weeds are dug out, it's not always pretty. Dirt flies. It's tiring. It's sweaty. I don't think I have the strength to finish. New habits have to be developed. I have to learn to say "NO" to the not great choices. (It means eating yogurt rather than a candy bar sometimes!) I have to let go of relationships with people and things. It means I have to limit what I watch, read, and the kind of music I listen to. It's a constant, never-ending process.
The payoff, though. The payoff makes all the hard work worthwhile. Weeds in the garden rob the soil and plants of vital nutrients and water that the plants need to produce fruit. And so it is in our hearts as well. Weeds rob us of life, joy, and peace. They suck it right out of us. With the weeds cleared out, peace, joy, and grace abound. It's a thing of beauty.
Because even deep in the thick of the weeds, there are good things growing. As I started clearing the weed patch, I discovered these flower seedlings. Now they can get the sun they need to grow and flourish as well as the nutrients they need to produce beautiful flowers in a few months.