“It’s Gonna Be Worth It All”

(James 1: 14-15, NLT) 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

I love to plant flowers and tend to them.  I always have.  I even love the satisfaction that comes from pulling weeds.  Each spring/summer, I almost always have a plan as to what flowers and greenery I am going to purchase, and how I’m going to get it all situated in my landscaping and various pots.  It is almost therapeutic to me, and I can’t wait to get my hands in the soil — bringing my imaginings to life!  However, this year, my heart just wasn’t in it.  I had a VERY stressful fall and winter, and by the time spring and summer came around, all I wanted to do was just be a little lazy before the busyness of my summer schedule began. 

So the plant sales came and went, and I bought nothing.  Planting time got away from me.  So I thought, “Well, I will just mulch, and weed, and water my perennials, and it will still be beautiful.”  However…I never bought the mulch…and though I pulled a few of the bigger weeds here and there, the usual glory of my summer flower beds was regrettably absent.  Each time I would walk past my empty pots and lackluster flower beds, I would feel this pang of what almost felt like guilt…and I would self-soothe with thoughts like, “It’s just one summer.  It’s not like it looks bad.”  And it didn’t…look bad, that is. 

Then…I got busy…as I always do in the summer.  So far I have spent a total of 4 weeks away from my home, only coming in for a few days here and there.  As you can imagine, things have become to look not-so-pretty.  Yesterday after church, I decided to take a little time for myself to lie out on my chair in the sun.  I went out, got myself situated and I settled in for some tanning.  As I sang along to John Mayer and sipped on my ice water, I began to look around…and there was that guilt again.  I looked to my left and I saw a rose bush entangled with some sort of vine-like weed that was curling its tendrils around many of the branches of my poor, bug-chomped roses.  Then I looked even further still at my hostas and my hydrangea, drooping from the summer heat and lack of daily waterings.  My hydrangea, which has always been a show-stopping shock of gorgeous, blueish-purple blossom bunches, had but one sad head that was droopy and pale.  My hostas were half the size they usually are at this point, and also had several of the same vines attempting to take them over.  I looked down to see that some large weed stalks (milkweed and dandelion) had also taken root among my day lilies.  In that moment, I was overcome with disappointment in myself.  I saw something that I had always loved deeply being overtaken by an army of unwelcome terrorists, simply because I had been lazy and selfish during the most important season for this little garden of mine.  So I got up, indignant, and I began to yank at weeds — bare feet and all — cursing them through my tears of frustration and anger at myself.  And I as I pulled and stepped on thorns, I began to receive revelation from God.  Isn’t it just like Him to use something as simple as a weed infested garden to gently teach a lesson? 

Our spiritual lives are much like my poor flower beds.  When we neglect them, even just for a season, things quickly get out of hand.  We can’t allow the enemy even one second of opportunity to sow seeds of doubt and sin into our lives.  Those weeds grow so fast.  We have only to turn our heads for one moment and they have sprung up out of the ground, grasping onto and choking out the nearest bit of beauty and life that they can find.  Sin, when left to grow and flourish, so quickly becomes an overwhelming force.  We may see one little thing that needs to be uprooted, yet in our laziness we think we will just take care of it later…but then later comes and that one little thing has reinforcements!  Friends, we have to uproot those weeds every single day.  It is an ongoing process that never ends, and as long as we stay on top of it — proactive and aware — it will never be too much for us to handle.  We just have to be vigilant.  And when we do go through lazy seasons…when it does get out of hand…we have to be willing to get up and fight. 

For the parents, we have to be just as vigilant with our children.  We can never let down our guards against the enemy.  He is seeking out our children, hungry for them, lurking at the ready to wrap his tendrils around their branches and squeeze the life and beauty from their blossoming souls.  We are parents, guardians, protectors…and we must never give up on our children — our future. 

When we are able to clear the ground of all of the junk that has been trying to take over, that is when we are able to confidently spread it with that protective layer of nourishing mulch — a covering of prayer — and plant those seeds of faith, hope, and love — the Word of God — drenching it all each day with fresh water — praise and thanksgiving — so that we can look upon our gardens — our lives and our families’ lives — with the pride and joy that comes with knowing we have fought…and won.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the things that You teach me through the seemingly mundane parts of my life.  I am reminded, more and more, of just how important my life is to You…and of how much You truly do love us all.  Help me, Lord, to never give up the fight.  There is much beauty and joy to be found at the end of each battle.  It’s gonna be worth it all.  Amen.

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