Cultivating

I am mowing the lawn tomorrow. I’m kind of dreading it. We just bought a 107-year-old house, and it took me close to 3 hours to mow the yard the first time. This yard is going to take a full year before it is worth looking at. The last owners apparently didn’t walk outside – they didn’t invest any time in cultivating the yard, the garden, the trees or the fence for that matter.  Our “grass” is actually a cornucopia of weeds and ivy, shards of glass were in the yard, stones and rocks were everywhere (which were fun to run over with the lawn mower), and there is a healthy amount of dirt where they should be grass.

Letting your yard “go back to nature” is never a good idea, because even though you’ve stopped working, the yard hasn’t stopped growing. Isn’t it so much easier to cut the grass each week and pull the weeds as you go than have to bulldoze the yard and start all over? This principle applies to the rest of life as well – think of the yard as your life and the weeds as sin. As God shows us the “weeds” along  way, it is easier and less painful to get rid of them at that moment, rather than having Him “bulldoze” our yard after avoiding our sins for years. If we do not heed His prompting when we see our sins, we get numb to our sin and begin avoiding God. Then we hear His voice less and less, until our garden is full of weeds. Rather than seeing our lives flourish and grow under cultivation, the “flowers” slowly get choked out.

Romans 6:12-14 says, “ Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

Hebrews 3:12-13 says,” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

I was reminded of these verses this past week. One of my oldest friends (for the last 18 years) told me that he has fallen away from God, doubting Jesus as the Son of God and doubting the validity of the Bible as a whole. It stunned me. I know this guy – we have served together, worshiped together, done missions work together, and witnessed together to the lost. How could this guy – a leader in the church, a counselor, a mentor, who knows his Bible back to front – fall away from the faith?

In Genesis 2:15, God tells Adam to work the garden and keep it. This was before the Fall of man, before sin and before death. God created us to be cultivators – to invest our time, energy and creativity into the world around us so that it grows in ways that God designed it to grow. But If I don’t take weeding seriously, sin will creep in and take over, blinding me to it’s consequences and making me deaf and blind to God. It may be difficult, it may take a lot of time, and it may be rough work, but battling sin now (“today,” as the Bible calls it) is essential. Just like anything else, if we start now and weed as we go, we will begin to see the fruit later. And eventually it will be the weed that is the rarity out in our yard, and not the grass.

My wife asked me last night, “Can you imagine what our yard will look like in a year?” I got a picture in my head of a beautiful, level, weed-free yard, with a garden of fruits and vegetables, flower beds, and bird feeders. Yes, I can imagine it, but imagining is not enough. It’s going to take a lot of dedication, commitment, perseverance, and weed-picking.

What about you? Can you imagine what your life will look like in a year? What are the “weeds” that you see in your life right now? Are you seeking God’s help to get them out of your life? Are you confessing to your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you asking for prayer? Are you seeking counsel? Do the hard work today so that you may begin to see fruit. Because you will never become in the future what you are not working toward today.

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