I’m still thinking about some things that I learned at the conference this week. One of the things that really struck me, that promises to stay with me and make the journey a little easier, has to do with weeds.
I like to garden, and of course there are tons of analogies that you can come up with relating to gardening that apply to faith. This is a little different, though. This relates more to The Garden than to gardening…
Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Ouch! Did you catch that? Cursed is the ground! Through painful toil we will eat of it, we will have to fight through thorns and thistles in order to make our living on this planet, and it will only be by the sweat of our brow that we will be able to to do so.
I never really thought too much about that, the fact that the Earth is under a curse. That is not at all to say that we can’t be saved…we can! Hallelujah, we can. Our souls can be saved, can be redeemed by Christ, and we can be assured that we will be with Him forever in Heaven one day…lifted from the Earth and free of the frustrations of that curse.
But, as long as we’re here….we’re under it. The frustration, the scratching in the dirt, the road blocks, the irritants, the daily grind.
I guess I never thought about the curse on the ground being related to the frustrations we face today. After all, very few of us farm for a living (although I am certain that those who do can relate even more to Adam’s pain). It makes a lot of sense, though, if you think about it.
Adam had weeds and thistles, we have (as Mitch Majeski said Saturday) Windows Vista.
And traffic jams, and drains that back up, and memos that get lost in transit, and phone calls that interrupt you in the middle of your work, and writer’s block, and stock market insanity, and did you notice that you can never find a pencil when you need one?
A thousand little thistles, poking their way up through the crops. Bindweed, twisting itself around tender stalks, choking out the good plants and blocking the sun, requiring our constant attention to pull, hoe, rake, and pull again. Sharp little reminders, thorns in the flesh, frustrations that go away only to come back again and again and again.
I don’t believe that our God is the sort of God that would do something like that without a purpose. Why allow all these things to get in our way? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if crops grew abundantly everywhere they were planted? If nothing got in the way of our getting our jobs done, no computers crashed, no traffic backed up, no printers jammed?
Easier, but maybe not better. God must have a reason for this, He is not one to met out a punishment that isn’t perfectly designed to make us grow. Like a good parent, His discipline is meant to help us learn, not to make us miserable.
Maybe we need to work on our patience. Maybe the weeds challenge us to be more faithful and attentive to our jobs. Maybe they make us appreciate the end results…the good crops…even more. Maybe, above all, maybe if we let them…they give us an opportunity to depend on God, to turn our needs to Him, to give us a chance to realize that He wants our hearts, not our labor or whatever we manage to produce.
I’ve been struggling with the weeds lately. The dog has started chewing things up, including one of my favorite shoes. The kids are irritable and snapping at each other. My drier has decided that it needs to take several hours to dry one load of laundry. For some reason, the last few weeks, we have had an especially hard time locating things like rulers, school papers, and pencils and an inordinate amount of time that I’d like to be spending on schoolwork has been wasted.
It helps to realize that this is where we are, that this world is just going to be this way. That it’s the same for everyone, it’s not just me who experiences all these little irritating weeds in the garden I call my life. The weeds are a constant, and I am just going to have to accept the fact that I will be pulling them again and again, because that’s what you do in a garden….it’s part of the deal, if you’re going to get any fruit from your labors.
Nobody said it would be easy! But there must be something in this painful toil that brings us closer to our Maker, if we allow it to. Either way, I’m going to be pulling weeds. It’s up to me whether I let the experience make me grow, or if I just let myself be frustrated by the stinging thorns and creeping tendrils.
Lord, let me accept the weeds in my garden as part of your plan. Let me see them as ways to grow, to be closer to You, to become the person you have in mind. Let me let go of the anger and frustration that I feel when I encounter yet another thistle, and be at peace with the work you’ve given me. Amen!