Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam"1 (Lyrics)
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.