Today I have been chatting with Allana’s brother, who is involved in forestry and landscaping and has worked clearing plants like Japanese knott weed from the countryside.
This stuff is pretty hardcore, if it starts growing in your garden and you don’t deal with it, this plant can grow through concrete and bring houses to the ground and is difficult to kill, if even a tiny little bit of the plant is left it can spaw and return as strong and deadly as it was before.
This stuff causes people to panic, understandably so, and so they employ guys like Dillon (Allana’s brother) to clear it away. Paying out cash for a massive clear out, yet what they don’t seem to want to pay for is the less glamourous job of ‘tending’ the land, checking no little Japanese Knott Weed remains and begins to flourish again… Clearing it once is not enough, it will return, instead the ground requires careful tending, looking at the ground carefully and make sure nothing remains, and any glimpses rooted out instantly.
It made me think of some of the tragedies I witnessed whilst doing a placement in rehab, people with wonderful recoveries and beautifully transformed lives crashed by just one small drink which led them back spirrelling out of control.
The conversation moved on from Knott Weed to another crazy plant, this one puts some form of enzyme into the soil which stops anything else growing there for about three years, he pointed to the side of the mountain which was mainly rock and soil and said “that’s why happened there”… Then he pointed out a seemingly innocuous and innocent looking bush and said “they must have missed that bit”.
A gardener removing this plant not only has to keep on rooting it out, but patiently wait until the soil is detoxified enough for other plants to grow there.
So often we want instant turn around, quick fixes, rip out some weeds and the garden will be back blooming again in no time, but God is into long term and long lasting change.
God doesn’t just want to remove the weeds but he wants the soil to be restored.
As I thought about this it reminded me of my character where I will gave a blitz on something and completely tidy up, but inch by inch things return to normal. Although not a fashionable thing to blog about that is why we need spiritual discipline, not just the occasional blitz but a daily tend.
With our spiritual lives, sometimes we have this great dreams of a different life and many good things we aspire to do, but despite our good intentions and maybe some short term encouraging signs sadly it isn’t long before we are back as we were before, often not because we slip away from God in some noisy row, but rather we slip away from God in inches, we don’t tend our spiritual lives and our good intentions don’t produce the fruit we would like.
So let’s be people who tend our lives, uprooting those things that will grow and entangle us and pull us away from Christ.
Yet rather than just watching our lives and uprooting sin, I was struck by another picture this evening of my mother in law tening the fire… Keeping it burning, when flames dipped a little she kept on putting on another log, tending the fire, keeping it burning. Again very easily to leave it for a little bit and the fire fades out and dies down, but to tend the fire requires patience, commitment and attentiveness.
So, what of us today?
Is there an area of our lives that needs tending?
Are their areas where we know we have a predisposition and weakness?
How do we stop unhelpful behaviours that shipwreck our faith to resurface even as small plants?
What does ‘tending’ look like in your quest for Holiness?
What of the fire picture?
Rather than just avoiding sin -important though that is- how do we tend to the positive things that help us stay on track and on fire in our relationship with God?
What can we do today to tend to the positive things we need to go to keep our faith alive and vibrant?