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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lessons Learned in the Garden

Most people who know me know I have a beautiful garden in my yard. I did not plant it, nor was the garden even my idea. I usually don't even tend the garden because we have a wonderful man from our church who has a landscape business and a very green thumb, so we pay him to tend it for us. It is a win-win situation. We help him financially, and he helps us physically. However, with the monsoon rains we have been having of recent weeks, he has been very busy trying to keep up with his many clients, while the weeds have been very busy trying to take over in my garden.

Now this garden has become an integral part of my life. Can't say I wouldn't be able to live without it, but it would not be pretty. It has become my spot. My place to rest my soul and refresh my spirit. To interact with my Lord and hear from Him on a daily basis. I love my little bit of heaven.
But for the last couple of weeks, my little garden has been sadly in need of some weeding. It was bad. Really, really bad. Dismal.
I had been procrastinating, hoping Mike would come and do the "dirty work" for me. And the longer I waited, the worse it got. And the bigger the job. 

So this morning, I could stand it no longer. 
I decided enough was enough, and I tackled the mess. 

Really, it only took me about 45 minutes to do the part that is in the photos. The part that I see when I sit on my bench and look out. But you know me, I God had some spiritual lessons for me tucked in those weeds. There were many, so I think I will share one each day this week. That way, you don't have to read all day to get to the end of this post. And it will force me to think about it all week, too. And maybe help me to attack the rest of the garden that is also being threatened by the weed monster. 

Lesson 1

Weeds are much easier to conquer if you get them when they are small and few. 

We have been dealing with some overwhelming family issues of late and the pain of it has shaken me to my core. And the enemy has tried to steal my joy in the midst. But just because I don't see God working doesn't mean he isn't. So if I let those thoughts of "what if He doesn't do something" or even the thoughts of "if you love me so much, why is this happening" take root in my heart, I will not be able to survive this. I have to remember my adversary is out to destroy me along with my entire family through this situation and if I give those thoughts root, he will bring other thoughts, feelings and seemingly harmless imaginings to validate my feelings and inhabit my mind. 

The temptation becomes sin when I give these seemingly harmless, self pitying thoughts life in the garden of my mind and heart, and they becomes rooted there. That is why Paul says to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." I have to uproot those suckers as soon as they come. That doesn't mean I can't be sad. Even Jesus was sad, and He knew the end of the story! Remember the shortest verse in the Bible? Jesus wept. Why? Because his friend Lazarus had died. He knew He was going to raise him from the dead, yet He wept over the loss. He even delayed in coming to heal him so that He could raise him. But it still caused Him distress in His heart. Partly because it caused his friends Mary and Martha so much sadness. And my sadness causes Him sadness, too. But I have to remember that my Hope is in the Lord. He is my living Hope. And being in His presence, not in the pit is what changes that. The situation may never change. But my perspective will. He is still sovereign. He still sees, knows and IS. He is still I AM. 

It is the same with other sins. If we nip them in the bud, we do not give them place to grow. We have to remember that for one thing to take root, something else has to go. For a sin to take root, a truth has to be uprooted. This is why Paul says we need to be "rooted and grounded in the Word of God". So that when a temptation comes, we can recognize it and pull it out before it blooms into sin. We have an enemy. A Hater. And hater's gonna hate. His goal for you is to destroy you. But God is bigger. And His goal is to mature you into the image of Christ. So in His infinite wisdom, He gives you a choice. And lovingly He presents you with the opportunity to define your love for Him in a tangible, and often difficult way. 

 It would be much easier for me to coddle these feelings I am having and just lay down and have a big ole pity party. It would be easier to hate the people who are hurting me and my family than to love them. And as I am finding out, it is true that there is a "fine line between love and hate". But I have to remember that THEY are not my enemies. And even if they were, Christ commands me to love my enemies. To do good to them who hurt us. Who use you and say hurtful and untrue things about you. (my paraphrase!) For in loving them, you are loving Christ. You are being obedient to Christ. You are identifying with Christ. Because it was for me He took upon Himself the form of a man, and was obedient to His Father, even to death on the cross. And if He did that for me, it is the least I can do for Him. And it brings me closer to Him as I choose to "Deny myself (my desires, my feelings that I should wallow in hurt and pain and let it swallow me into the pit of despair), take up my cross (and do what I cannot humanly do: love unconditionally) and follow Him (closely, desperately). And when I focus on Him and His Word, "renewing my mind" he changes my thinking, my patterns of thought that are ungodly to His thoughts And poof! I can see the temptation for what it truly is: an ugly weed that will give birth to something that will suck the nutrition from the soil of the garden that He has been tending in my heart. It will suck the life out of me. So as painful as it may be, when I recognize it, I must pluck it up and cast it and my real enemy, the enemy of my soul, into the pit where they belong.

Is it easy to uproot a sin that has taken root? No, it isnt. But for the sake of Christ, we must. That is why it should be done when the temptation is just a thought. And that is the subject of tomorrow's post. 

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