Mom, I know of one big boring chore we will need to do when we come home, chirped our six-year old daughter as we drove down I-75, on the last leg of our almost eight week, 8,000 mile long journey. We had enjoyed 5-star hospitality in many of your homes, got to exchange some hilarious, heart-stopping, unrepeatable stories which could fill several lifetimes and said more good-byes than we thought emotionally possible. I wasn’t quite mentally prepared to face the giants lying ahead.
What is it, hon? I asked, scrolling through a long to-do list of big, boring chores lodged in the back of my mind, wondering to which one she might be referring.
We need to pull the weeds!
I chuckled at the responsible fore-thinking of my little gardener-in-the-making. My heart echoed her sentiment, shuddering at the notion of what may greet us when we step into our backyard. Out of respect for our neighbors we had hired somebody to take care of our front lawn while we were gone, but the back we entrusted entirely into the care of Mother Nature, which has a way of going a bit out of control, especially during the hot, wet Florida summer. In the past, it would take me weeks, even months to reign in the wild. I saw no reason why this year would be any different.
Our worst fears were confirmed later that night, as we peered into the weed infested wasteland mercifully veiled by darkness. A full and accurate assessment would have to wait until the next morning, but I already knew what I was going to see: every garden boundary disregarded; the weeds and the cultivated plants entangled in an unholy embrace; the flowerbed overachievers sprawled all over the disheveled lawn and across the sagging fence into our neighbor’s yard.
I braced myself for impact as I slowly opened the drapes to our sun-drenched windows the following morning. What happened next took me completely by surprise. It might have been my rock-bottom expectations, or a few years of dirt-digging experience, or just getting older and maybe a little wiser, but instead of a moan of exasperation at the sight of the jungle that met my eyes, my heart skipped in delight as I was greeted by several beautifully matured plants which earlier this year I had planted as tiny babies in a new flower bed stretched outside our bedroom window.
My, my… look at you… Look at YOU! See how much you’ve grown since we left! I affectionately muttered to the beaming flowers, suddenly blind to the mess of weeds and deaf to the fact that I was actually talking to the plants! I quickly threw on my gardening gear, eager to reclaim this small plot of land, re-establish its obscured borders, free it from all intruders so the plants could show themselves off in all their glory. This wasn’t a ‘big boring chore’ - it was an energizing exercise of loving authority, which yielded amazing results by the end of the day!
Then, as it happens in many a garden story, a mirror appeared, revealing another, frequently overlooked reality. I stop to ponder how often my heart gets paralyzed by the inevitable, indomitable weeds of life. Everywhere I look I see a tangled mess of good and bad - messy people, messy families, messy churches, messy governments. The boundaries trampled as much by thriving overachievers as by out-of-control weeds. My paralysis, then, turns into a zealous impulse to go at it – hack it down, mow it over - the good and the bad, the honeysuckle with the crabgrass. I want a quick-fix, simple black-and-white outline to follow. While all along there is another Voice calling. His way is patient waiting, gentle endurance so He can slowly, carefully train my eye and heart to see what He sees…as He sees. A gracious invitation to humbly join Him in His work of planting and nurturing towards maturity the tender heavenly plants His loving hand has placed along my path. Resting my soul in the confident knowledge that He will take care of the weeds, fully and completely, when the harvest finally arrives.