Guided Living--Pulling Weeds, Fertilizing Trees
Have you ever driven past a landscape that takes your breath away, and the feeling of awe and wonder is amazing? The scene moves something deep inside you and energizes your spirit. Not everyone knows this, but the peacefulness that comes from that energy is God given. Because He created the world to be enjoyed by us and by Him (Genesis 1:9-10). Of course, sin happened and ruined the whole thing. And this world, the Earth and the universe, became less enjoyable. Literally, the ground was cursed because of the Fall (Genesis 3:17-18). But I find hope in thinking that in heaven, when everything is made right, even the "ugliest" flower will find itself at home in the garden. Because in heaven, there will be no more weeds.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that is full of weeds. And almost anything can be a "weed". In fact, it can be hard to distinguish between something that is a weed and something that is a flower. Especially when we are young in age or young in our faith.
However, even the most seasoned life warrior can sometimes struggle knowing the difference between a weed and flower. I find it helpful that Jesus told a parable where this fact of life is put into a practical image. Funny enough, it's called "The Parable of the Weeds", and you can find it in Matthew13:24-30. In it, there are three main characters or groups of actors. The "farmer" who represents the Son of Man. The "harvesters" who represent God's angels. And "the enemy", who represents the devil. The story goes that the farmer plants wheat in his fields, and then at night, his enemy sneaks into the fields and plants weeds among the wheat. As the plants grow to maturity, the servants recognize there are weeds among the wheat. The servants ask the farmer if he wants them to pull the weeds from the beds. The farmer replies, "'No, you'll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn."
The end of the parable is a representation of the harvest that will happen when the Lord returns to reclaim this world from Satan (Matthew 13:36-43). All godless people, all the "weeds", will be gathered up and burned. And the wheat will be saved in the barn. However, there is also a principle for living we can pull from the parable that extends beyond the end times. And applying it is essential if we want to live a healthy psychological life this side of heaven.
The principle is simple. In this life we are growing alongside both good and poisonous things. In addition to this principle, we know from other parts of the Bible that if we find something we think is poisonous, we must do our best to weed it out of our life (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Like most things, the hard part is not in understanding the principles, but it's in the application of the principles to our life. Because there will be times it is difficult to tell the difference between what is good and what is poisonous. Jesus explains this to the disciples after he tells the parable. He tells them that weed the enemy planted in the wheat field was darnel. A weed that looks just like wheat, especially as the plants are immature and still growing. And so that meant it was impossible to root out every bad thing from the field, because it would end up killing all the good things.
Now take this illustration and apply to yourself. Last time I checked you're growing, and we're all growing. And so it's safe to say that some of the things and people in our life will look and feel like wheat, but they're actually poisonous. And some of the people and things in our life will look and feel like poison, but they will be good for us. Which means we must be vigilant in what we put into our mind. And we must be vigilant in who we spend our time with. Both are important when it comes to our mental health and well being. Because both our mind and our hearts are reflective of where we spend our time, and who we spend our time with.
But don't miss the forest for the trees (pun intended). Because there is an even more important action step I like to call "fertilizing". Which means we must fertilize our hearts and our minds with good things that will make us grow.
It would be really exhausting and unhealthy to go around picking up all the things we think are weeds in our life. You would be a very busy person. Because as soon as one weed was removed, two more would pop up in its place. It's the nature of weeds to reproduce at an astronomical rate. Your anxiety levels would be out of this world because the moment you turned around there would be something else to remove. And you would not possess the peaceful feeling of abiding joy that comes with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Because the truth is that there is a better way. A way that God's grace provides. The way of the tree.
It is also in the nature of trees to reproduce and to grow. It just takes longer. And the impact that a tree has on the community can far outweigh any weed. As long as you take care to grow, nourish, and fertilize the tree. FYI -- IT'S YOU. YOU ARE THE TREE. And so here are three ways you can start fertilizing your life today.
One. Fertilize yourself with faith.
Two. Fertilize yourself with hope.
Three. Fertilize yourself with love.
Faith centers our focus on God. The Creator of all things who is in control of all things. Working all things for the good of those who love Him.
Hope gives us grit and determination. It gives us the ability to suffer well. Even when the world's stage is dark and set for disaster. Hope is the light at the end of your tunnel. It keeps you walking.
Love is the selfless act of sacrifice and surrender. It is the glue of all relationships. It is the most powerful fertilizer because it is the mysterious yet quintessential element of God's story for this planet. Love gives us purpose, love gives us passion. Without it we are lost.
And so start the application today. Don't wait for the weeds to grow and your tree to dwindle. Feed the tree today, and every day, so that your garden can be lush, beautiful, and weather the future storms to come.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled...But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
About the Author:
Dr. Corley is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S) in Missouri and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in Kansas. He specializes in marriage counseling and trauma recovery.
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