“Down the road I look and there runs Mary, Hair of gold and lips like cherries. It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.” – Green, Green Grass of Home. Composer: Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr. Recorded by: Porter Wagoner (1965).
We’ve only been married for two years. Michelle is a green thumber with big landscaping ideas. She not only talks the talk, but she walks it, too. Over the last two years I’ve seen her magical touch on our property. As for me, not a chance. That’s a talent I don’t have.
Springtime in Texas is sweet and sour. The sour part would be the pollen, outrageous storms, and the fresh crop of weeds common in mostly central and east Texas. She has been hiring a lawn care service to do the mowing and edging for some time now, but there’s drawbacks to their work. They tend to bring unwanted seeds of weeds with them under their well-used mowers, planting our lawn like ants to an ant pile. Arg! Again I say, Arg! So, with a bit of angst from my side of things, we politely discontinued the service.
In Texas we must have hundreds of species of weeds. The most hated, the most dreaded, prickly thick-stalked dandelions. They can grow a good four to five feet high if untouched. Then there are some less visible. Some are actually kind to the eyes, as some of them have handsome blooms…at first.
The trouble goes beyond mowers that just worked over a field of various weeds. There’s also the neighbors. Across the street from us, is a lawn doubling as a “weed nursery”. Sure, they mow them down, but of course they grow back in about six days. Moreover, the wind blows the seeds across the street to our lawn. (Have I written “Arg” yet?)
Michelle seems to have some reservoir of energy I was not gifted with. Her mapped out solution for our growing weed crop is to pull them out by the roots…each and every one of them. Yes, you read me right…EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM! “No weed-wacking or chemical spraying at our place,” says the lady of the house. That would be my way of doing things, right or wrong. Believe it or not, she finds pleasure in doing it. I applaud, bring her glasses of chilled water and remind her of sunscreen. (Michelle is a ginger.) She sees those pesky weeds as an enemy to be pulled out and bagged before they choke-out our mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. If weeds had brains, they would be slick and wise world conquerors. Bless their little hearts.
Currently, she is hand-tilling the ground, foot-by-foot, and replanting more St. Augustine, while fighting the onslaught of our unwelcomed weeds. It’s lots of hard work.
As I was carrying bags of the adversary out to the curb for trash pick-up day, I was hit with a life application.
Weeds are spoken of in the Bible. And yes, scripture spotlights the fact they were the target of angry farmers. Jesus mentioned horticulture many times. When it comes to weeds, or weed-wanna-be’s, He made various teachable moments out of them.
One of my favorites is a vivid, picturesque scene of a farmer planting good seed for the season. Jesus gave a parable about a farmer tossing good seeds where some found good, unhindered soil for sprouting and growing Then He told another side concerning a failed crop. Some seeds were burned out by the hot sun, withering before they were watered. Other seeds landed on shallow ground dotted with rocks where they never took root. Some landed well, but the birds, circling above, quickly swooped down and picked the ground clean. Then there was the batch of seed that landed among thorny bush plants. (Easily translated into prickly weeds.) Wouldn’t you know it, the thorny bushes choked-out the growth of the intended crop.
There’s a huge amount of application to the parable, which He spelled out when His hearers asked to explain the meaning. The seed represented words from God delivered to humanity. In fact, He stated that people are also like the seeds spread on the ground who are within earshot of the words. Some will grab hold of God’s love letter, the Bible, and apply the contents to their lives. Others will not, as the words fail to take root in the heart, the core, where faith resides. Ouch! That’s skin off my nose.
When He gets to the seeds which landed in the weed patch, he describes the weeds, or thorny bushes, as the worries of life. Wow! The writers and researchers who authored journals on mental health must have read the parable. As it turns out, after two thousand years of medical studies, they discovered anxiety stunts growth. Growth in the emotion department, mental stability, and even our physical health can be uprooted by these weeds of life.
There’s a better life meant for us. A life unhindered. Sure, we often see the dandelions sprawling in our path, so we strike up the mental mower. We try everything, don’t we? A dose of this drug, or a glass of this or that will shake it off. A date night with someone who promised us the world will be a good weed-wacker…until the morning alarm goes off. For clarity, we can sit in the lotus position and empty our minds with some suggested introspection for a few minutes. (I used to do that.) However, in six days, or six hours, or six minutes, or less, the weeds grow back. Ask yourself, after you succeeded in wiping away the cares of this world, if they ever came back to haunt you. Yeah, that’s the same with me, too. Like little wild and wacky weeds, they sprout up in the tundra of our days.
Frankly, most try to fertilize and water their lives for better days, but the peers, across the street from us, always share their seeds of weeds. Often they unknowingly share…sometimes strategically sent. Before you know it, influence occurs and BOOM…weeds are choking us out like an MMA fighter on a Friday night.
Worries are just like that. As to Jesus’ point, if not careful, they can be contagious. Hang around a group feasting on anxiety with their social diet and CHOMP….you find you’re being hindered as a person, an individual looking for a better patch of ground to root. Then again, some worry-warts can be surrounded by an uplifting crowd and still find ways to sour-sack the days. GUILTY AS CHARGED! I can be a worry-wart. It can and will mold my mental, emotional, and physical health. The medical field has proven anxiety can cause all kinds of physical ailments, including cancer. If you plant St. Augustine, you’ll get St. Augustine. If you plant dandelions, you’ll get dandelions.
With all that said, Jesus indicated the weeds in life can stunt, or choke-off my spiritual outlook. How true. Have you ever tried to pray during sucky episodes in life? Honestly, during those times, it feels like I’m fighting to get my prayers to pierce the ceiling, as if I’m talking to the wall. Other times I wring my hands over a fog of uncertainties, that I have no control over, and find I neglected reading or studying scripture. Before you can say, “Scott’s Lawn Services”, the dandelions of doubt appear in the turf. It’s not a surprise that I dwindle in my spiritual mindset as I fight off the weeds interfering with my stride. The good news is, in scripture, God promised to hear my concerns, even when I only hear the echo of my voice in an empty room. My ever-growing weeds don’t hinder Him. He defeated death on Easter. Weeds can wilt at His voice. Literally, that happened once when Jesus cursed a fig tree on the roadside. He was hungry as He scouted out a fig tree which didn’t yield any figs. He cursed it and the entire tree wilted overnight. As usual, the witnesses around Him who saw it happen, had to pick up their jaws off the dusty sandals. Now, THAT’S the One I pray to.
Whatever underlying issues, which feed the roots of worry, they must be yanked out at their source. You can identify them. I figure you know yourself pretty good. Mowing, spraying, and masking only delays the takeover.
Ironically, the worry-weeds surrounding you today didn’t block-out God’s words if you read this post. Mark, chapter 4 is where you can read His entire parable, along with the applications. He never intends His words to be a mystery, or indifferent to understanding. In fact, after He delivered the parable, He showed His intention for you with the following line…
“…He who has an ear let him hear.” (Mark 4:9)
After pulling the worries of life out by the root, it leaves room for a crop of fuel for the race.
“…And other(s) (seeds) fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit…” – Jesus – Mark 4:7 (ERV) ‘…And others are they that are sown among the thorns; these are they that have heard the word (of God), and the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful…” – Jesus – Mark 4:18-19 (ERV)