What's The Real Problem?

June 12, 2019
by Diane Eaton

There's an annoying patch in our front lawn where, year after year, weeds keep thriving, but lush grass won't grow. This spring I'm dissipating my frustration through a devotional — beginning with a Scripture reference to the problem:

Mark 4:5-6 – Some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (NIV)

You'll recognize this from Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed. My weedy patch illustrates Jesus' point well.

Several years ago, municipal workers dug up this area in my lawn to repair a leaky water pipe. They hauled away the excavated soil. Afterwards, they filled the pit with gravel. I called the municipal office and requested that they replace the gravel with topsoil — which they did, barely. The surface looks better, but it's still stony. It can't hold water, and weeds take over.

You now see how those weeds are merely symptomatic of the real problem. You also see why neither weed control nor rigorous watering will fix the trouble. The gravel is the problem. Today, passersby know nothing about that problem; they see only the unsightly patch.

Likewise, we can't see the "soil" deep in the heart. We see only unsightly "weeds" which thrive in poor conditions: symptoms like disrespect, gossip, retaliation, betrayals, and domination. Remember, those are just symptoms. The cause is hearts unable to receive and nurture the "seed": God's gifts of grace through the living Word, His Son.

We tend to focus on outward symptoms, and mostly those that annoy us — what's "in our face". We want those particular "weeds" eradicated, perhaps more for our own sake than for God's sake. We crave peace and comfort in order to avoid the agony of rejection, shame, and emotional upheaval. It's natural to seek after a safe environment where everyone affirms us and we can have our own way. Thus, we eagerly embark on rigorous "weed control" measures — only to discover that our efforts do little to change the "soil" condition of hearts, including our own.

As for that front lawn problem: I decided to live with it. The mower keeps the weeds down sufficiently. But as for evidence of spiritually poor "soil", that's another matter. It's not okay to overlook that problem or just clip down "weeds". Our calling is to partner with God in softening and transforming hearts, so that the "seed" can grow into lush, productive yields — for the benefit of all — and for God's kingdom.

Galatians 5:22-23a – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (NIV)

May this be the prayer of each of us:

Prayer: Lord, continue to soften my heart that I may fully become what You called me to be: an effective fruit bearer — especially where there's so little of it. Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Diane!


    Well said. Thank you.


    Thanks for sharing, Diane.


    WOW, another HOME RUN, so on, thanks for sharing.


    Amen, Diane! Dear God, grow your good fruit in our lives!


    Thank you, Diane. I agree, spiritual weed control is a huge problem.


    A great AMEN to your prayer Diane. Thanks for your beautiful analogy!!


    Such a hard thing to do but so true, Diane. Thanks for the reminder and God bless!


    Certainly, a rich and timely reference, Diane. Thank you for sharing your insight today.


    Good morning, Diane,
    What helpful thoughts. Thank you always for your devotionals.


    Wow, talk about bringing scripture close to home!!! This was interesting, thanks for sharing.
    God bless.


    Ah yes! Weeds do thrive where they will, so do stubborn, unrepentant hearts…even our own. May the Lord Jesus replace our stony hearts with fertile, productive ones. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


    Hi Diane. Thanks so much for a wonderful message today. It was a great analogy and you have given us lots to ponder and pray about.
    Blessings on your day.


    Hello Diane,
    Thank you for writing another very poignant devotional. What a wonderful, peaceful world it would be, if everyone followed the teachings of “the fruit of the Spirit”.
    Blessings to you.
    (B.C.)


    Dear Diane,
    I appreciate your wonderfully illustrated concept. It is so easy to look at our symptoms and not at the underlying cause. Thank you for prompting me to observe my weed patches and tend to the deeper needs.
    Blessings to your writing.


    Hi Diane, a very apt lesson, indeed! Around our house, instead of flower beds, we laid river stone as I am not a gardener. Although the landscaper laid protective sheeting first, and then covered the sheeting with the stones, it is amazing how many little weeds grow up amongst the stones. Fortunately, they can’t send down deep roots, so it is easy for me to pull those little critters out. If only it would be so easy to eradicate the ‘weeds’ that take root within me.
    Thanks for your lesson.


    Hi Diane,
    I love this message. My husband and l see a lack of manners and consideration in the area that we live in. A lot of people don’t know God here and l try and remember that when they are pompous or selfish towards us. Sometimes it’s hard though when people disparage us, especially when they judge us because of our color, which is what happened to us on Monday in an incident we experienced.
    Thank you for sharing your own experiences, l really appreciate it!
    Blessings.


    Hi Diane,
    A wonderful earthly example of (weeds and gravel) to illustrate an important heavenly truth.
    Your chosen scripture was spot on!
    Thank you for sharing.


    Dear Diane. Thank you for this message. It sure does resonate with me. I am still very much a work in progress.
    Have a blessed day and weekend.
    Blessings.


    Thank you, Diane, for your devotional. I came across this short prayer, and it keeps me mindful of letting small things irritate, annoy or upset me.
    “Take O Lord from our hearts all jealousy, indignation, wrath and contention, and whatsoever may injure charity and lessen brotherly love. Have mercy O Lord, have mercy on those that crave your mercy; give grace to those that stand in need thereof; and grant that we may be worthy to enjoy Thy grace and attain to everlasting life” Amen


    Thank. As I read your devotional this Sunday morning it gave me a contemplative moment to examine my motives for the coming week. Thanks again I intend to remove the gravel.

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