Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fruit from Weeds: Insight 5

Don't look at how much you have to do. Instead, focus on what is right in front of you & take satisfaction in pulling each weed.

Our beds are 50 feet long and 5 feet wide. When the weeds were in full rampage that resulted in 250 square feet to weed in each bed. And there were usually multiple beds that need weeded at any given time. It could seem overwhelming if you looked at it in total.

The best way to deal with that is to start on one bed and focus on what is right in front of you. Start with the biggest weed and concentrate on pulling it. Enjoy the process of pulling it out and the clean space that results. That will motivate you to tackle the next weed. That in turn will motivate you to take on the weed after that, and so on. Don’t think about how much more of the bed that needs weeding. Before you know it you have covered significant ground.

Scripture tells us that approach works on all tasks, not just weeding. Proverbs 13:11 teaches, “accumulation little by little is the way to riches” (New Jerusalem Bible). Ecclesiastes 2:24 and 3:13 tell us to take satisfaction in the work we do. Psalm 37:1-3, Proverbs 4:25, and Matthew 6:33-34 all tell us to focus on doing what God put right in front of us and not to get upset about other things. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fruit from Weeds: Insight 4

Pull straight up
Another thing I learned was that weeds come out best when pulled straight up. They come out of the ground easier, with the roots going back up the channels in the soil they created, especially weeds with strong taproots. In contrast, weeds are much likely to break when pulled from an angle, leaving you with a handful of leaves, but roots still in the ground. Pulling straight up takes more time, and requires more movement as you weed out a bed, but it definitely yields better results

I’m not sure why that is. My admittedly unscientific theory is that puling straight up results in the most direct, concentrated, application of energy. Further, pulling a weed at an angle probably makes the roots encounter more resistance. Instead of going back up channels, roots are pulled through solid soil, encountering more friction.

Scripture recognizes a similar dynamic, teaching us to apply our spiritual energy in a focused, direct, manner.  Moses taught the Hebrews to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength,” and to commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NLT)(emphases added). See also Deuteronomy 4:29;  Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 22:5. Jesus recognized that, explicitly ratifying Mose's teaching.  Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28.  Jesus also recognized that halfhearted devotion—the spiritual equivalent of pulling weeds at an angle—won’t do. Luke 9:59-62; Matthew 8:21-22.  Jesus’ disciples got those principles.  Paul and the writer of Hebrews stressed the need to put Jesus above all. Philippians 3:7-14; Hebrews 12:1.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fruit from Weeds: Insight 3

Start with the biggest weeds

         OK, where do you start once you’ve resolved to weed? With the biggest weeds. If nothing else it’s satisfying to pull them, and a good momentum builder. More pragmatically, that quickly cleans out big spaces and loosens the soil, making it easier to pull the smaller weeds close by them.

         The same dynamic is true in doing God’s work. We see that in the lives of two men powerfully used by God: Joshua and David.

         God tasked Joshua with getting the Hebrews into the Promised Land. Joshua 1:1-5. Joshua did that by taking on the biggest obstacle first: the flooding Jordan River. He had to move two million folks and their possessions across it to actually get into the land. Joshua 3 and 4.  Once he did that the rest of the conquest was relatively easy. Joshua 5-11. It was taking on that big initial obstacle that opened the way to do the rest.

         The other was David. God used him to unite the 12 tribes into a single kingdom.  He was anointed to that at an early age, but it didn’t happen right away. 1 Samuel 16. Time passed and what actually got him started was taking on Goliath. 1 Samuel 17.  Although his path to achieving God’s purpose was not as smooth as Joshua’s, there is no doubt that his initially pulling that extraordinarily large weed set up his ultimate success. 1 Samuel 17:55-18:30.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fruit from Weeds: Insight 2

Don't Put it Off

Weeding is not my favorite task. That, together with the fact that something else always needed done, made it easy to put off.

In the meantime the weeds increased, the good plants suffered, and I felt guilty every time I walked by the weedy beds. And when I finally got to it the weeding was harder.  That was not wise.

In contrast, Jesus modeled the wise approach.  He knew that His ultimate mission involved great suffering—being tortured and gruesomely killed for our sins. But He did not procrastinate. Luke 9:51 tells us that “as the time drew near … he resolutely turned his face towards Jerusalem” (New Jerusalem Bible).  Moreover, he took the direct route through Samaria, even though that was not friendly territory. See Luke 9:52-56. And once the time for His suffering was immediately upon Him, Jesus faced it head on. “Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go!” Mark 14:41-42. See also John 18:4-11.

The wisdom of that approach is obvious (even if executing it is hard). Putting a difficult task off gives us more time to worry and feel guilty about it, making it more difficult on a psychological basis. And it will likely make it physically harder to do once you get started. What could have been done in few minutes with a scuffle hoe takes an hour of hands on pulling. As the old saying goes, “a stich in time saves nine.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fruit from weeds: Insight 1

We went completely organic this past year and I did not do a great job managing that change. One result was a LOT of weeds. That meant a LOT of weeding. 

As usual, God did his Genesis 50:20/Romans 8:28 thing, and turned that to the good by giving us some helpful insights though the weeding process. Those insights were both practical and spiritual. They are the fruit referred to in the title. This and the next several posts will pass those insights on.

Well, just like weeding, we’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s get going:

Insight 1
It is much better to prevent weeds than pull them

Weeds weren’t much of an issue in the past because we used black plastic sheeting to stop the weeds before they started. We correctly abandoned that because it baked our soil into brick like consistency. Our problem this year was that we didn’t execute a good alternative (newspaper/cardboard covered w/grass clippings) until the weeds had already gotten established. We beat them back, but it took way too much time away from other things. We would have been much better off preventing those weeds in the first place.

The same thing is true in our individual lives: we are much better off preventing sin than trying to uproot it later.

Perhaps the best scriptural passages on this are Proverbs 5:1-14 and Proverbs 7:6-27. Both use illicit sex as a metaphor for all types of sin.  In Proverbs 5:1-14 the inspired writer advises that we stay out of the area where sexual temptation is likely to be encountered. Proverbs 7:6-27 describes the consequences of disregarding that advice.  The point is clear: avoid things that give sin the chance to get going in the first place.

Back to gardening, how do we do that with weeds? Check out the materials here,  here, and here (great video).