Watching for weeds

August 7, 2012 — 3 Comments

I weeded one of our ficus plants today. Over the years, it has been plagued by several stubborn weeds. Recently, a rather innocent-looking feathery plant decided to move in to the pot. I decided it had to go.

After the massacre

However, I couldn’t pull out all of the roots. No matter how hard I tried, a few of them seem to be superglued into the soil.

this is just the tip of the rootberg

For now, I’ve let them be. But I know before long these roots will send new shoots and if left unchecked, they will eventually choke the healthy growth of the ficus plant.

I have some spiritual weeds too whose roots are infested deep in my heart. Even though it has been decades since I opened my heart to Jesus, I’m still fighting to keep it free of thorny sins like pride and envy. No matter how many times I confess these sins and receive God’s forgiveness, they sprout up again.

Why am I still weeding?
Sometimes this frustrates me. After all the years of following God, I begin to think He owes me clean, weed-free soil. I want His presence in my life to make it impossible for sin to grow.

But my unwelcomed feathery plant reminds me that no heart is ever immune from a weed taking root. If I am not continually vigilant, my soil will become overrun by wild, grasping sins.

One reason for this is that my spiritual life isn’t lived in a vacuum. When the Holy Spirit took up residence in me, He did not seal off my heart or put it under glass.

Much has happened since that day. I left my childhood home. I went to college and got married. I parented and worked. Then we moved to another country. I changed jobs. Our nest emptied. Each season brings the possibility of new growth and of fresh temptation.

That’s why I have to keep checking my heart. If I get weary of weeding and stop paying attention, the weeds won’t mind. They’ll keep spreading their tendrils through the soil of my heart, happy to be left unchecked.

pale but deep roots

Whenever I doubt this, I only have to go to the news where I can read another sad story about a longtime Christian’s stunning moral failure. Or I can remember my own failures–perhaps not as spectacular but just as damaging to my fellowship with God.

Killing the roots
The stubborn weeds in the ficus pot have another lesson for me as well: I’m not strong enough to get rid of every sin on my own. Some roots are so tenacious and deep in me, that sheer willpower is not sufficient. I need God to do it for me.

That’s why Jesus died on the cross: because I couldn’t save myself. And I can’t save myself now. Although I need to weed and work as I follow Jesus, only the power of the Holy Spirit can take away my persistent sins. And this kind of open-heart surgery is not always pleasant. God may desire truth in my inner parts, but I am not always eager to have it.

However as I surrender day after day after day, and let Him into the darkest corners of my heart, He dissolves the bitter roots by His grace.

What about you? Have you let God weed your heart lately? Do you have a stubborn root that needs His powerful grace?

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape us with the Word, making a salvation-garden of our life.
James 1:21 paraphrase of The Message.

3 responses to Watching for weeds


    Killing weeds has been my business for 42 years. Weeds are actually the first physical sign of the results of Adam’s sin: (Genesis 3:17-18 ESV) [17] And to Adam he said,
    “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; [18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

    Weeds are a constant battle. I used to teach a class called “Spiritual Agronomics” where we discussed weeds and how they grow and what you can do to prevent them. Some weeds are annuals and can be controlled by using pre-emergent herbicides. Some are periennials that have to be killed by using post-emergent herbicides. Some are impossible to control with anything but the most powerful of herbicides. The point is you will NEVER have a garden that is free from weeds. Even the most diligent of gardeners can’t keep all of the weeds out all of the time. Some weeds are a nusiance and with some slight physical effort can be removed. Some are destructive to the point they will destroy your garden. But by far the worst weeds are the ones that look like they belong there. Privet is a great example. People think they can maintain privet by trimming it and trying to “manage it” like they would a rose or azalea. They trim it, prune it and think they have it where they want it. When in reality all of their efforts only deepen the root system.

    Thanks for your insights …..

    By the way, it looks like the weed you are dealing with is wild carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace.


      I like that analogy about annual and periennial weeds–I’ve seen that in my life. And it’s a good reminder that no garden is every free from weeds, and that if we aren’t careful innocent-looking plants can really take over and crowd out good growth. Thanks for those insights!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Unveiled: Part two « Annie Wald - October 2, 2012

    […] sooner], you’d see that back side I try to keep hidden. You’d discover that the weed of selfishness still sprouts up. If you don’t believe me, just ask the man who lives with me […]

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