Four years ago, the last week of July, 2013, our family moved to a beautiful home on 2 acres of land. We were looking to escape some of the hustle bustle of the subdivision neighborhood lifestyle, and hoping to enjoy a more peaceful life with a fruitful garden and backyard chickens.
But, as is true in most things of life, nothing is without trials. You can read more about our experience moving in my blog post titled “A Thorn in the Flesh” here.
Over the past four years, we have battled with our yard in a myriad of ways – fighting poison ivy, ticks, yellow jackets, mice, more poison ivy, more yellow jackets, more ticks, and more mice. This summer we finally decided that our best bet was to do a major overhaul of the backyard. This overhaul included hiring a landscaper to remove over 2 dozen trees, along with all the weeds and shrubbery, and lay thick green sod (still a work in progress), thereby turning our backyard from a “wilderness” into a “manicured lawn with abundant large trees.”
So, I was blown away when our women’s Sunday school class this morning’s lesson was from an essay by A.W. Tozer titled “The Hunger of the Wilderness!” Here are a few lessons I’m learning through this yard reconstruction that were reinforced during our morning discussion:
- That beautiful backyard that we just spent thousands of dollars to create will naturally go right back into a wild forest if we don’t diligently keep back the weeds and bramble. In the same way, our hearts and minds can be drawn back to the world if we do not keep focused on the Lord.
- Weeds don’t need to be watered and fertilized, but lush, green grass does. If you want your backyard to look like a golf course, you have to put in the work. 2 Timothy 2 refers to Christians living like a soldier, an athlete and a farmer. When I reflect on what these three professions have in common, I think that they all have a prize in mind that they’re working toward and they all have to remain diligent and steadfast in their work. Are we fixing our eyes our Jesus with eternity in view? Is He our greatest prize? Are we growing weary of well doing?
- We have to dig out the weeds from the roots, rather than just using a “weed whacker” to chop the tops off of them. In getting bids on the backyard, I kept saying that I needed the poison ivy removed, not just chopped up and spread all over the yard! Too often we are just treating the symptoms of our sin, rather than going after the roots. Are we just “pruning our sin,” grooming it to look prettier on the outside, without ever getting to the true heart of the problem?
- With time, we can grow so accustomed to our weeds, that they start to look normal, maybe even pretty. When we first saw our newly transformed yard, we actually missed all the greenery of the weeds. How often are our hearts like that? We choose the comfort of our sin over the beauty of righteousness.
- It can take days or weeks or even months and years of neglect for the weeds to come to the surface. If we’re not keeping our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23), and abiding in the living vine of Christ (John 15), we can wake up one day shocked at sins that we thought we’d conquered years before. When that sin keeps returning, rather than losing heart, we can be thankful that it keeps us on our knees, that in our weakness we are forced to depend all the more deeply on Christ, our advocate and redeemer … which reminds me again of that “thorn in my flesh” that I originally wrote about 4 years ago.