Pulling up Weeds

by Jan Coles


I’m pulling up weeds, a chore I despise. But I’m not just pulling them from my gardens; I’m also pulling them out of my lawn. And from the edges of my driveway, around my graceful deciduous trees, and any other place, weeds can find a patch of soil.

These aren’t ordinary weeds. They are noxious, toxic, pernicious, and any other vile word you can conjure up to describe them.

When we moved into our home in late fall of 2004, there were many different plants I wasn’t familiar with, being a west coast gal living in the middle of the continental U.S. When spring came, I walked around the property to see what had started to grow. I left most of the plants in our little plot of land. I didn’t want to pull out anything important or lovely.

Some of the plants I discovered in a patch of the garden under my bushes had soft, branched leaves. They were just beginning to show clusters of delicate white flowers. They were so beautiful.

But when the flowers faded, I discovered the awful truth. A spiked ball of thin, brown seeds about a half-inch long jutted out where each flower had been. On the end of each seed were two small burrs, just right to stick to my dog’s fur, my cat’s fur, my socks, my gym shorts, and whatever brushed up against them. I was horrified! These lovely, innocent-looking plants were responsible for generating thousands of seeds designed to travel.

Then I discovered more of these weeds in the back part of our property. I desperately tried to pull them all up and put them into a large trash can without dislodging any seeds. It was an exercise in futility. No matter how careful I was, thousands of seeds flew everywhere. There was no point in trying to retrieve them. They were small and nearly impossible to see.

The following summer, hundreds and hundreds of these horrid plants were growing on my property. Not only that, they were growing on my neighbor’s property. My choice had affected the people I knew and loved.

These plants are easy to pull out of the ground when they are small. But the larger they grow, the harder it becomes. The stems become thick and stiff and break off while the roots remain.

It became difficult to remove all these weeds because I wasn’t wise enough to look for them while they were still small.

I should have looked up the plants to identify them. I should have asked a friend or neighbor about them. I would have known they were a noxious weed before I decided to let them grow. I’m usually so careful to look up something I don’t know about. This time I failed.

Something that looked beautiful had turned into something bad with long-lasting consequences. After eighteen years, I still have hundreds of new plants coming up every year.

That reminds me of sin. It looks beautiful. I am drawn away and enticed by it. I don’t stop to identify whether what allures me is wrong. I don’t stop to ask others to help me in my ignorance. I don’t examine myself to see whether sin is growing in the garden of my heart.

If I know my sin, do I pull it from my heart while it is still small and easy to root out, or do I let it grow? Do I let it affect the people around me? Do I deliberately ignore it and allow it to take over? What kind of seeds grow?

When I long for a large, beautiful house, I become discontent with the home God has provided.

Discontent gives way to envy, and seeds of unhappiness grow. When I judge someone, I put myself above them, and seeds of arrogance grow. When I worry about my child, I fail to pray, and seeds of a lack of trust in God grow.

The Great Gardener is always there, prodding me to care for the garden of my heart. I dare not allow sin to take hold, no matter how lovely it looks.

I need to be ready to overcome ignorance with knowledge and wisdom. I must be willing to call out my sin while it’s still small. These are hard things to do. And sometimes messy. But uprooting sin is crucial.

Are you with me? Let’s go pull some weeds.

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