Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Happy The Home When God Is There"1 (Lyrics)
To my horror, I discovered that the white spring flower flourishing in my garden is on the list of invasive species. This delicate, six-petalled flower called "Star of Bethlehem" has been a blessing in England, but here, it "got away" and has become "disobedient". It has become a curse to gardeners. I didn't realize that until I noticed its presence throughout my flower beds and checked the Internet. Now, I feel foolish for not knowing sooner. But why should I have? After blooming, it disappears like other bulb flowers — out of sight, out of mind. Now, thinking about this troublesome plant conjures up Jesus's warning:
Matthew 13:25 – But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. (NIV)
I suspect that the devil himself tampered with the DNA coding for the Star of Bethlehem. That's why this delicate bloom with a lovely name has mutated into an aggressive intruder. Isn't that how the sin nature turns God's beautiful creations — namely humans — into monsters? Isn't that what turns our God-given blessings into curses which "get away" on us? The sin nature is surely like mutated DNA. Lodged deep within the heart, it lurks undetected till circumstances allow it to blossom. Its bloom may be socially appealing, but its invasive property stifles the growth of the life-enriching gifts of grace.
The Star of Bethlehem, I discovered, firmly establishes itself within the root mass of good plants. I found it lodged among the bulbs of my cherished spring blooms. I couldn't distinguish the bulbs unless they were still attached to the flowering parts. Unfortunately, before my research, I had pulled off many blooms.
It's no different when, in our naivety, we try to "pull off" troublesome sin problems in others. It won't work. The bloom will reappear — perhaps more aggressively.
While researching invasive species, I learned a lot about myself and my yard, which is replete with invasive species. I enjoy wild varieties, and I like to let things grow naturally. Imagine if God were that kind of gardener and coddled the sin nature that way. People would become unmanageable, out of hand, and disobedient — like an unruly garden. It is in love that God provided a way to uproot sin's deep hold. Salvation is God's worldwide gardening project where, through His Spirit, He digs down to the core of the heart to extract evil's root within.
God's ongoing gardening in our hearts includes the uprooting of many things which have blessed us. It's tempting to be like a coddling gardener, and indulge the very things that God is weeding out. If we resist such losses, they could become a curse to us. Any blessing can become invasive, stifling the tender growth that God has germinated in our hearts. We must trust God, who, through relentless cultivation, transforms each of us into a lovely blessing.
Prayer: Lord, we invite Your gardening work in our hearts, that we may be effective witnesses of Your nature: holy, righteous, and blameless. Amen.