I Hate Gardening, but God Doesn’t… (by John Robinson)
I hate gardening.
I hate everything about it. The soil, the plants, getting dirty, getting a sunburn on the back of my neck, the bugs … all of it. It’s just not my thing. I much more prefer scholastic activities – reading, researching, studying, listening to teachings, learning, etc. Usually in the comforts of air conditioning.
I should have known something was up when I got fruit pancakes for breakfast last Saturday. Now my wife makes me breakfast often, but I could tell there was a motive behind this particular breakfast.
Apparently Alba saw a snake near the tomato plants on the side of the house. I think it’s hiding somewhere in the foundation of the house. She thinks it wants to take over. It didn’t help that we recently heard a story on the news about homeowners who discovered their recently-purchased house was infested with hundreds of snakes. I don’t believe that is happening to us, but it doesn’t stop me from checking the toilet before I sit down.
Back to the gardening … Alba asked me to pull some weeds that she didn’t get to once she saw the snake. Inwardly, I groaned, knowing that this was going to become a mini-project that I was going to hate. God used it as an opportunity to teach me something.
I started quickly grabbing the weeds and ripping them out of the ground. As fast as I could. I knew I could complete this task in less than 3 minutes. But not so fast. My wife-turned-supervisor informed me I needed to slow down, and make sure I got each one by the roots or they would grow back. Duh. I just didn’t plan on being around when they did grow back.
So I slowed down a bit and started to pull the weeds out by the roots. I felt the Spirit of God speak to me, saying, “This is how you often deal with sin in your own life. You don’t deal with the roots.” I was like, wow. The Lord wants us to put Him first in everything, but we often don’t. The nation of Israel was the same way … forgetting God and running after all their idols, longing to be just like the world.
But those desires choke out our relationship with the Living God. He wants us to root out of our lives all that is not of him. Not simply on the surface, but the deep roots. I can’t say what that is for you, only you can search your own heart and determine that for yourself. But I encourage you to go deep. There’s a blessing in it. In the book of Deuteronomy, God spoke to Israel, making a covenant with the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, reminding them of how he brought them out of Egypt, from under the rule of a harsh taskmaster, and into a place that was especially prepared for them. If they refused to turn to the gods of the world, there would be no roots bearing poisonous fruit.
They didn’t listen, and time and time again, Israel turned to the blessings they saw around them, the blessings that the world had to offer, and time and time again, God brought them into destruction. The prophet Hosea wrote that Egypt (a symbol for the world) would once again devour them, and that weeds would take over their treasures while thorns filled their houses.
We continually run to the world and then wonder why things don’t go our way. Why we are not blessed. Why we don’t feel peace. God certainly does not promise us a garden of roses, but He does command us to weed the garden, and in doing so, experience the peace that only he can give. Yes, you might get a sunburn, you might grab some thorns and bleed a little, you might even face down a snake or two … but in planting your roots in the good soil of God, you will bear much good fruit.
“The wicked desire the treasures of other evil men, but the root of the righteous will yield good fruit.” Proverbs 12:12
The apostle Paul also tells us to rid ourselves of any root of bitterness, that from those roots spring much trouble and cause many to stumble. Paul traveled from church to church, ministering to the believers in the Lord, and must have seen the same thing we see in our churches today – people getting offended with one another, holding on to those roots of bitterness, and thus stifling their own spiritual growth as well as the growth of others.
So in doing this favor for my wife, I learned an important lesson, and while uprooting what wasn’t supposed to be there wasn’t an enjoyable task, I know that the plants are going to produce some lovely vegetables which will be pleasant to eat later. Ignoring the roots, hoping someone else will deal with them, can only ensure that there is no resulting blessing for all to share in.
John Robinson is a Christian, father, husband, and Special Education student at Western Governor’s University. He teaches Children’s Church and attends Vineyard Community Christian Church in Richmond, Kentucky. Connect with him on Facebook.