My yard is huge, 1.5 acres to be exact.
When I first moved here, I had big plans: A bed of tulips over here, Daffodils over there, and a myriad of exotic trees scattered throughout the property, especially weeping willows, my personal favorite!
I also wanted a garden, and I eyed a certain weed-covered portion of land with this in mind. In fact, the day after our move, I went out to inspect this particular plot. It had obviously been used as a garden before, but not for a while. The weeds growing there were not the typical kind at all. They were over six feet tall!
What do you do with weeds? Why you pull them up, of course! And I proceeded to do just that. Before I had succeeded in unearthing even one of them however, I was out of breath and I had hurt my back. You should have seen the root system on these monsters!
I eventually succeeded in uprooting all of those giant-weeds, and what was left was a patch of bare ground. It would be the ideal garden spot, and when spring rolled around, I eagerly planted my vegetables.
It didn’t take long for my dream to turn into a nightmare. My neighbors had dedicated the back of their property to what they called “natural growth”. Translated, this meant “weed patch”, and it seemed that this particular patch of weeds felt that its callings in life were to propagate and to invade! My garden was immediately infected by its ardent zeal, and soon I was spending two hours a day trying to keep the weeds under control. It wasn’t until I saw the fruits of my labor however, that I became discouraged. Although tasty, my vegetables were small and deformed. My dream garden vanished in front of my eyes, and the next spring, that lovely garden plot became the foundation for a play area, complete with a fort for my boys. Our only hope was that the building would keep the weeds at bay!
Now, many years later, I look at my yard and I see that all my former plans came to naught. The majority of our yard is either taken up by our septic bed and won’t allow the planting of trees, and the rest is too low and swampy to support new growth. My “exotic” trees are centered around my brownish, algae infested pond. I did succeed in planting a row of fruit trees along the side of the septic bed, however they are all bent out of shape and leaning on their sides due to the heavy winter winds. Stakes, no matter what kind, have been totally unsuccessful in straightening them out. Instead, the fruit trees have forced the stakes to bend over with them! Having a yard full of the “Leaning Fruit Trees of Pisa” is quite unique, don’t you think? (What on earth am I talking about? Oh my vivid imagination!)
My tulip and daffodil fields are non-existent; however, I was able to plant a number of berry bushes around the fruit trees. I carefully covered their roots with a black anti-weed groundcover, and anchored it down with beautiful white pebbles. I guess the weeds didn’t read the manual, because they have succeeded in taking over those white pebbles completely. And just try pulling out weeds that are protected by a black tarp and pebbles!
I did plant a couple of weeping willow trees around the pond and another at the drainage ditch in front of the property, and these look gorgeous. The only other exotic tree ended up being planted on the front lawn. It is a Sequoia tree, but it looks half-demented, as the side facing the wind is completely bare! I guess it fits perfectly with the rest of my landscape!
We do have one weekly pleasure. That is to ride the lawn mover over what is supposed to be our lawn, and cut all of the weeds down to grass-length. How good it feels to have a yard semi-clean of weeds for a day! However the yard does not take such action lightly, and it sends out revenge with extreme vengeance. When the ground is wet enough to comply, it reaches out and grabs our tractor, swallowing its tires in a mess of foul-smelling mud. In dryer times of the year, it hires swarms of nutty mosquitoes and kamikaze wasps, all of which think that the tractor-driver is its personal target!
As the years go by, my yard looks less and less like my original dream, and more and more like a messy junkyard, where weeds reign supreme. I can only take comfort in one fact: My Heavenly Father knows exactly how I feel. He faced the same problem when He created us. He had great, outstanding plans for us, but we turned our back on Him. We wanted our own messy, smelly, heartbreakingly rebellious plans, and we turned His eternal plans into a junkyard of messed-up lives! Look at these two Bible texts:
“There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mud slides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day.” (Rom 3:10-18 The Message)
“They leave them littered with junk – a ruined land, a land in lament. The whole countryside is a wasteland, and no one will really care.” (Jer 12:11 The message)
God is more persistent than I am, however. Where I have given up on my yard, God refused to give up on us. He refused to see us turn into junkyards, and He did the impossible. He removed the stubbornly addicting weeds from our life! How? By becoming one of us, by dying in our stead, by paying the penalty of our rebellion. He showed us the way out, and now He willingly shares His resurrection life with anyone who will accept it.
Amazingly, those who have a personal relationship with Him are changed from junkyards into gorgeous fields of tulips and daffodils: “And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (2 Cor 3:18 The Message)
It is sad that many have turned away from this loving message from God because of the religion of mere men. They pretend to worship God, but instead their legalistic, self-centered rituals denounce who they really are: “When you come before me, who ever gave you the idea of acting like this, Running here and there, doing this and that – all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship? Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games!” (Isa 1:12-13 The Message); “I’ll give away their religious junk…” (Ezek 7:21 The Message)
Instead of accepting God’s offer, so many try to reach heaven by their own endeavors. How God hates such endeavors! Instead of trusting their Heavenly Father, they trust solely in themselves and the vomit they create: “You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.” (Matt 12:45 The Message); “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9 NIV)
The only way out of this mess is by getting rid of all of our legalistic religious junk, and centering our attention on Jesus. He is the only one who can revolutionize our personal junkyard and turn us into splendid fields of glorious flowers! Developing a personal relationship with him is out of this world!
“The phrase ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!” (Heb 12:27-29 The Message)
P. S. Did I tell you about the poisonous mushrooms in my back yard?
Maybe this would be better left for another time.
P. S.S. I would like to thank the group Delirious, for helping me develop this message.
(To access the entire “Ruthless Pursuit of Gold” devotional series, please click here.)