We’ve had quite a stretch now with no rain. Add to that the high temperatures, and the need for watering anything that you want to grow becomes a necessity. While my wonderful husband has been faithfully watering most of our garden areas, as well as some newly planted grass, our shady little patch of asparagus – that is in the midst of yielding fistfuls of its tender green stalks each day – has been forgotten.
I wasn’t aware of this, so this afternoon, as I was harvesting some of its bounty (not actually recommended to be done in the afternoon, but this is how it happens, sometimes) when I noticed a blanket of small weeds covering the entire patch, I immediately prepared to take care of the invaders. I sat down with my gardening rake and proceeded to try to loosen the soil so that I could easily pull the weeds out, roots and all. After several attempts to drive the tines of the rake into the dirt, I realized I had a problem. The ground was packed solid and the rake was hardly disturbing anything beyond the very top layer of dry dirt. I tried for a few minutes with the rake and with my hands too loosen the dirt and pull out the weeds, but not only was it slow going, the weeds were just not getting loose enough and were breaking before the roots could be pulled free. The ground needed water before the weeds could be removed.
As often happens in my garden, God began impressing on my heart a lesson in this example of weeds and water. I’m very quick to identify “weeds” in life – sin, weakness, insufficiency, ignorance – and these need to be addressed, without a doubt. But the flip side of this scenario is that the ground that’s growing both the good and the bad suffers without water. A life that isn’t being poured into is more likely to hold tightly to all that is within it – unyielding, unworkable, closed up tight to a gardener’s hands. In these cases, as bad as the weeds may look – and as illogical as it may sometimes seem to water the ground that is harboring all these unwanted roots – in the long run, it is absolutely necessary to be able to properly weed a garden, to pull out the whole root, and to help the good fruit to flourish.
And this was a challenge to me today, especially in regard to my children. They need water first and foremost. They need me to pour out my life for them in love and grace, patience and kindness. Sometimes this might, for a moment, seem to let the “weeds” flourish. Maybe they’ll take advantage, maybe bad behavior will be overlooked at times. But, as a softening takes place in their hearts. As the life-giving water of the Spirit saturates our interactions and loosens the hardened places, then the roots that have grown deep in their souls can be pulled up with gentleness and thoroughness and minimal heartache. It’s clear there must be a balance. Neither weeding nor watering is alone enough. But there is an order.
First, pour out love and compassion.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8