Some time ago, I had a rosebush in the flower garden outside of my living room window. This rosebush had long branches, like tentacles of an octopus, reaching out and jagging whomever walked by and required constant care and upkeep to keep it under control. On several occasions, I neglected to give the bush the proper care that it needed. The branches would sometimes spread out 6-10 feet, completely invading the flower garden. The bush demanded weekly, if not daily care to maintain its beauty. Caring for the bush was an arduous task, but when it was in full bloom, it was a spectacular sight. Hundreds of pale pink, fluffy, velvety roses dripped from the branches of the bush.
Weeding around the bush was quite a chore. Pulling weeds that grew amongst the rosebush was painstaking because of the inch long thorns that jagged me with every yank. And I REALLY do not like weeding. I’ll take any other yardwork (mowing, digging, raking, cutting down stuff with a chainsaw, you name it), but weeding. So, when I get around to it, I do it as quickly as possible and probably not as thoroughly as I should. But alas, weeding is vital to the health of the flower garden. If weeds are left to grow, they will literally choke the life out of other plants. Weeding is a necessary evil.
On one particular day, I went outside to do a check up on my flowers. A week or two had gone by since I had weeded and my once-blooming flower garden was looking ragged and forlorn. I began weeding and weeding and weeding…and weeding. When I finally reached the rosebush, my hands were sore, my back was killing me and the sun was scorching a hole through my shirt. I noticed there was a rather large weed growing right up the center of the bush. Reluctantly and carefully, I reached my hand in to pull the weed out. I gave it a pull, oh so carefully, so as not to get punctured by the bush’s daggers. It would not budge. Rather than risking the skin on my hand and arm, I just left it. I was tired of weeding and couldn’t tolerate any more that day. Enough was enough!
More weeks went by. The rosebush had grown out of control and the weed in the center had grown larger. I gave it a yank using both hands this time, really putting my back into it. Fail. I could not get it out, no matter how hard I pulled, no matter how much I twisted it, no matter what angle I came at it from. Once again, I abandoned my efforts. Susie-0, monstrous weed-2. Complete defeat.
Autumn came, the roses stopped blooming. I cut the bush back like you’re supposed to do each fall. I cut the weed back too. By this point, it was no longer a weed, but more like a sapling. I wish I had caught it sooner! I just left it there, growing among my beautiful rosebush. “Maybe it will die during winter,” I thought to myself.
Spring arrived. It took me several weeks to attend to my garden. When I finally got to it, the weed that had been a sapling was now 10 feet tall and had a bona fide trunk. A tree was now growing straight up from my rosebush! How on earth could this happen? I waved the white flag.
I figured it was time to call in the big guns, aka the hubby. He tried extracting the “tree” from my bush with a shovel and saw. He could not. Being a man, he decided the best course of action was to bring in a piece of heavy equipment. More power, right? Argh, argh, argh. He pulled the John Deere tractor up to the bush, wrapped a chain (!) around the trunk of that overgrown weed and pulled. And do you know what happened? Not only did the weed come out, but so did my rosebush. The roots of the weed had become entwined with the roots of the rosebush. When he pulled the weed, the rosebush came out too! My beautiful rosebush was destroyed! All that was left was a gaping hole in the ground and a very tiny remnant of the root.
If I had only been more diligent about consistently weeding my garden, this would not have happened. But because I was lazy, because weeding is hard, because weeding is not fun, because I had better things to do with my time, my rosebush was nearly completely destroyed.
The human heart (soul) is like that rosebush. It is wild and untamed in its natural state. But it flourishes and blooms when it is daily watered, fed and weeded.
What is water to our soul? The spirit of God. It is like rivers of living water.
How do we feed our hearts? By putting good things into our minds and hiding the Word of God in our hearts. And through praise and worship.
How do we weed our hearts, clean out the soil of our soul? By asking God to reveal the weeds to us and remove them from our hearts. We can ask God to search our hearts and our souls.
Weeds growing in the heart can be things like bitterness, hatred, regret, envy, or anger. If we do not remove these unwelcome assassins when they are small, they will take root in our hearts. Once they take root, they are difficult to remove. And once they take root and began to grow, extracting them will be equivalent to spiritual open-heart surgery. Weeds must be removed or complete destruction WILL occur.
Guard your heart. Don’t be easily offended. Forgive others when they wrong you. Let things go. Be grateful for the things or the life YOU have. Stop looking in the past and wishing you could go back and change things. Don’t harbor ill feelings towards other people. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Call in reinforcements (pastor, friend, counselor) if you need help clearing the weeds.
The heart that God has placed in you is precious. Give it daily love and attention. You have a choice. Encourage your rosebush to grow and flourish or allow the weeds to take over and choke the life out of you.
The weeds in my heart almost choked the life out of me. Regret, bitterness, anger, shame, and hatred are just a few of the weeds that tried to cause destruction to my soul. But through God’s mercy and grace, I was not consumed by them. The process of extraction was painful, tedious and a WHOLE lot of work. I now water, feed and weed my soul daily.
Daily diligence wards off devastating destruction.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”