Every week when Friday rolls around, I am excited to greet another weekend. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my career and the people with whom I get to share my work days. However, as routine & schedule-driven as I am, it is rather nice to have those couple of days to pack in as many errands, as much cleaning, and all the relaxation possible. Yet sometimes, I feel like it’s just never done. I’m betting you have too.
This weekend, I tackled another task that I’ve managed to roll over from one weekend’s task list to the next for several weekends now – weeding & winterizing the flower gardens. UGH! Given the pitiful state of my gardens and the lack of joy that I’ve felt in them these past 6-7 months, I’ve been rather unmotivated to get out there and rip out the weeds and the unfortunate, overheated and under-watered summer flowers that I once planted with such love.
Once I got out there, it really did not take an excessively long time, and the now winter-ready flowerbeds look a thousand times better. The added bonus is that I was able to stand in awe of the beauty of the two autumn blaze maples that I planted a couple of years ago when I bought this house.
If you are not from Texas, you might not know that while we do get fall and some colors, we don’t see nearly the vibrant autumn colors that other areas of the country do. I selected these two trees at the nursery simply because they were said to thrive in our climate and because of the promise of more vibrant color with each passing year. Wasn’t God amazingly thoughtful to surround us with such beauty?
Then I started thinking. (I sometimes do too much of that.)
You see, I just wrote about yardwork a few months ago here. When I finished the task then, what remained in my flower garden looked beautiful and ready to thrive throughout the late summer/early fall months, spreading joy and promise that it was indeed, not a lost cause. I had such great hopes – and in those moments, God reminded me that He never considers me (or you) a lost cause.
Yet, here I was, looking at a flower garden that looked just as pitiful and weed-infested as it was back in August. How could this have happened? I loved on those flower gardens, nourished them, and perhaps even showered them with admiration. Even still, they once again let the weeds take hold and began to suffer as a result. While their roots were once strong, they were being choked out from underneath the surface by the weeds that were slowly taking over. It wasn’t long before what was above the surface revealed the poor health, both in the decreasing grandeur of the flowers and in the unmistakable presence of weeds threading throughout the garden.
It was in this moment that God again spoke to me, “You are the very same, my sweet daughter.”
It wasn’t enough that a few months ago, I weeded the flower garden. That was a good step, certainly, but it wasn’t enough. Flower gardens take constant attention and maintenance. Without it, weeds can far too easily sneak in and begin stealing the flowers’ nourishment intended. And left untended, the weeds will soon choke the souls of the once beautiful flowers.
We are indeed the same. Crying out to God for help once is not enough, nor is a single prayer, one Sunday at church, or the first step in the right direction. Life with God and growth into the person He intends for us to be is an ongoing, daily process. It is repetitive and thoughtful:
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:2 (New American Standard)
If we do not stay in fellowship with our loving Father and allow Him to work in us, on us, and through us, we will find our souls choked by the weeds of bad habits or thoughts, unhealthy relationships and sin. The ugliness that is growing inside of us will soon give evidence of itself in our words and actions.
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.”
Philippians 1:6 (The Message)
Far too often, I find myself facing the same old struggles that have crept upon me before I even realized it. Usually in those moments, I discover that I have not been as faithful as I should in my daily pursuit of life with God.
God, please surround me today with Your loving and delicate touch. Help me to remember that I am a “work in progress,” something that is encouraging because it means that You don’t expect me to be there quite yet, but is also convicting because it means that I need to daily look to You for the next step on that path. Help me to do that today, Father.