The battle rages on! I come around the corner of my house and I’m surrounded. It’s like an ambush. I cleared this area of enemy occupied territory just a couple weeks ago and now, they're back. I’m writing of weeds of course; the most tenacious and resilient of horticulture’s dark side. These little suckers are amazing. I battle them with poisonous granules, broad-use sprays boasting “control” and now-and-again I even resort to the stuff called, Total Kill. And yet, they return… they resurrect… again and again they reappear! Not engaging with them or ignoring them and simply hoping they go away is a sure strategy for growing a jungle. I must tangle with them, sooner than later. The hotter the summer gets, the more they thrive and my grass dies. Oh yes, on the same hollowed ground, while I am attempting to battle evil I am also trying to grow something good.
Last summer, honestly, I was winning the battle… was. This summer, after financing and deploying a significant strategic combat plan in early spring and following it up with an application of a second wave in early summer, the environment was looking good—the landscape seemed free of the enemy. One morning in late June, I went out the door to begin the day and couldn’t help but see in my neighbor's yard the battle he was losing… "overrun" is seldom a positive or encouraging word. As a matter of fact, that particular day I would swear to you, it appeared as if he must have decided to plant and grow Taraxacum… more commonly known as dandelions. It was as if overnight, they were there yellow pretties adorning his property. This was not good. I knew his negligence was going to cost me. Several days went by, and then, one late afternoon, I was pulling into the driveway and got to enjoy the site of youngsters pulling the now almost cotton topped white headed dandelions, and with delight, delight mind you, blowing the evil fairy seeds into the air. The battle was back on, and I was in trouble—time to fill the armory and prepare for the next battle. To continue... And so it is with the hearts of men… so it is with my heart. Living in this fallen place outside the Garden, we contend with weeds—the presence of something we did not plant and do not want to be there, and yet, it is there and it is having an affect. I have mine, and all my neighbors, friends, and strangers have theirs. Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. Matthew 13:24-25 (NIV)
All of my teachers—John Eldredge, Dan Allendar, Gary Barkalow and Gordon Dalbey—all address this battle and give insight to this cycle of war. Seasons of dormancy and times of firey ordeals describe the tides of spiritual warfare. Most men are not prepared, most men live continually overrun, most men live untreated. They don’t know how to fight and they are ill-equipped with far less than the potent weapons in which they need in order to defend themselves and the landscape of their homes. And, as opposed to my lawn where I could subscribe to a service or have someone else do it for me, each man must be the one to attend to his own heart. You don’t need perseverance for an occasional battle. You need perseverance for frequent, unrelenting assaults.
It’s a shame and it could be avoided. Not the battle… the losses. We will have to fight. It's guaranteed in the scriptures as if we needed them to remind us of how hard it is outside the Garden. Most men are ever tired of looking over the fence to see the someday, the one-day. They have learned to live with the weeds of sin in their life—ill timed and ill played suggestions that compromise their hearts and those of their neighbors, starting with wife and kids, and then broadening to any and all subject to the affect of the weeds in their hearts. It was about 10 years ago when I heard the term from my friend’s wife. We were all having dinner and talking about challenges with kids and attitudes we were holding in our hearts regarding our kids. She said, “Sounds like you need to invite Jesus to do a little gardening in your heart.” I loved the thought then, and I still love it, now. Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God. Pope Francis There is “upkeep” to our hearts. An ongoing maintenance is critical; gardening and growing the good stuff rather than allowing the bad stuff to emerge takes skill, patience, and a heart that is engaged. It takes work because caring for the heart is a battle. Few things are as beautiful as a well cared for garden… few things are as grand as a well cared for heart.