We have a pineapple patch in our yard. The warm climate here in Hawai’i is wonderful for growing many things – including weeds. I can pull weeds one day and wake up the next morning to new sprouts. I recently noticed our pineapple patch needed some attention. Actually, I had probably known this for a while, but now I knew I was ready to do something about it. I kept wishing for the weeds to go away, and they never did. I kept hoping for change, and it did not happen…that is until we went out and did the work. I asked my children to join me…team work. Shani saw this on a t-shirt, TEAM – Together Everyone Accomplishes More. So true.
My children said some of the most amazing things in the garden that day. Their words expressed how I often feel when it is time to do some work in my own life. The Lord blessed our day and even used their words as teachable moments that we were able to share in and learn from together. I will share some of their thoughts and mine.
One of my children said, “I don’t want to pull weeds. I would rather be doing something fun.” I thought to myself, who wouldn’t? Isn’t that so with life? There are many distractions that pull us away from doing the work that often needs to be done. There are many things I prefer to do as well. Without being intentional, our gardens become overgrown, over-run, and the fruit in our lives is often robbed of the nutrients needed to THRIVE. If we allow weeds to grow along-side our fruit, they will live together struggling to survive. Eventually, if left unattended, the weeds will take over. Weeds seem to have this amazing capacity to multiply. Interestingly, the fruit in my garden does not multiply. Especially my pineapple. These sweet, delectable, tropical treats take over a year to produce and and they have a very limited life.
One child stated, “It would be so much easier to just hire someone else to take care of this for us.” Oh how I often wish someone would come and do the harder work for me. Let’s just stick to the simple stuff. But the hard work, difficult situations, secret fears or sins can only be addressed between me and God. I cannot call someone else to come and take care of business for me. We once had gardeners several years ago. What a treat it was to come home from something and realize that they had been there tidying things up and making things look so lovely. In my own life however, I cannot expect someone else to tend to my roots. I must call on God for help in my time of need and meet the issues head-on.
Another expressed, “This is really hard work. Bending over – over and over again is very tiring.” When the work gets harder, or gets more uncomfortable…our tendency may be to stop right there and say, “Well, I think that’s enough for today. Often times I find that the victory only comes after I pursue the harder work…working to meet with God no matter what. Working to push through and climb over obstacles. Quitting cannot be an option if victory is what I desire.
One of my daughters showed me with an expression of great discovery, that she found it to be “easiest” to just take the weed, and break it off from above the ground. She said, “Look Mom! If you do this (demonstrating) it breaks off easily and no one will ever know that the weed was there until it grows back!” Ah yes. The quick fix. I shared with her that I was familiar with this kind of technique, and although it seems easier at the time, it will be better in the long-run to take care of the whole problem.
So tempting to fall into this trap. The root is still in there, but it looks good from the surface. Appearances. We have all made them. And sometimes, it is the easier way out…for a little while. If the root is still there, the root system is still feeding underground and robbing the nutrients from the fruit. So everything seems okay, but there is still a problem lurking beneath the surface. I would rather tear up the ground and have things get a little messy, dirty, sweaty, uncomfortable and experience a little discomfort to clean out so that God can multiply the fruit in my life and increase the health of the fruit he has already established.
Out of the mouths of babes! I received so much from this time in the pineapple patch. Spiritual metaphors were flowing in abundance and I was allowing God to speak to my heart about each of these things. I was grateful to share this time with my children, to have teachable moments and speak truth to their hearts as well. We all worked hard that day. Not only at pulling weeds, and tending to our physical garden. I worked hard to set an example of stewardship, as well as the ability to work through difficult situations. As I watched the morale drop, I worked to regain a sense of hope. I worked on my own attitude so that I would not become discouraged. Knowing that I could change the climate…I could speak words that would bring life or words that would bring death.
Isn’t life this way? As parents we often set the tone for our families. As the complaining tried to establish itself among us, I was able to encourage and remind the children (and myself) that we can weed the garden for God (Eph 6:7). I used scriptures to remind us that He has entrusted much to us and we are to do all things without grumbling or complaining (Phil 2:14). And that we should not let unwholesome words come out of our mouths but only words that encourage (Eph 4:29).
Spiritual gardening. It takes work. We must tend to the weeds of this life, so that we can produce great fruit. Fruit that abounds. Sweet fruit.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Galations 5:22-23a