Cutting Through The Weeds of Life


lawnmower

It’s not just a lawnmower. It has a name and that name is…

The other day, a friend was telling me that he gets his inspiration while riding his motorcycle to which I quickly quipped that I got mine on my riding lawnmower. And while I said it jokingly, it’s really very true. Indeed, sometimes God speaks to us in the strangest places—and, for me, it is quite often over the roaring of a lawnmower engine. Perhaps He finds that it is easier for him to “cut” to the chase as the rapid revolutions of the engine and blades drown out all the other noise of my world and I become more focused on Him and His creation. It really is a special time during which, over the years, I have received a lot of great insight.

This past weekend, for example, as I carefully and—I like to think skillfully—maneuvered my fire-engine red Craftsman mower with shiny chrome wheel covers tightly alongside the landscape timbers that separate the grass from my flowerbeds, I felt him nudging me to take a closer look inside the beds. Much to my dismay, what I saw was more weeds than flowers. It is then that I heard these words in my heart; words that flowed melodically and in perfect harmony with what was now just a backup hum from the mower.

flower

Your Heart is like the flowers

The most fruitful of seeds

It will die if not tended

Choked out by weeds.

Stopping the engine, I immediately hopped off the mower and started tending that flower bed. I pulled, plucked and tugged every weed. And, with each weed I pulled, it was if God breathed new nuggets of wisdom into my soul. He explained that the enemy has one play in his playbook—to plant weeds anywhere He Himself has planted seeds. In the case of our own hearts, the weeds represent things like sorrow, regret and shame. The evil one knows all too well that if he can keep us focused on the weeds, he can keep us from growing into the creations that God intended.

But, oh no, you devilish one, you are quite mistaken. God is the gardener of my life. And where you sow a crop of weeds, God is always standing by to pull, tug and pluck every single one. In fact, Matthew 15:13 promises us that “every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.’”

Indeed, as children of God, we should forgive ourselves and each other, just as God forgave us through His son, Jesus Christ. By forgiving, we pluck the weeds of sorrow, regret and shame and free ourselves to give love to and receive love from God and others, just as we are commanded in Matthew 22:37-39:

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

By forgiving, we free ourselves to be more fruitful—to grow more and more into His image, the image in which we were created in the first place.

Ah, sweet Jesus, I have held this teaching close all week and, today, as I prepared to do my weekly mowing once again, I noticed those flowers and plants which I tended last week have bounced right back and are full of life. My heart is feeling pretty full of life, too. Thank You for loving me; for never giving up on me; for forgiving me through your Son and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and for always being willing to tend the garden of my heart. Please help me to do my part so that I can produce fruit that will make You proud. Now, I’m off to hop on the lawnmower. You know, I’ve been thinking. Perhaps, I will give the ol’ Craftsman a name. Harley. That way I can tell my motorcycle friends that I, too, find my inspiration when riding my Harley! 🙂 Amen and Ehmen!

Have a blessed, weed-free day, y’all!

I Heard It Through The Grapevine…



It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to us and draws our attention to things that fence of faith grapesHe wants us learn. I have written in the past of the many things He has taught me through the grapevines that grow along the trellis and fence in my side yard. The vines were here when I moved in and at first, while I found it cool to have grapes every July and August, I never really gave it much thought. Then, a few years ago, God started using it as a teaching tool for me; and, today, I actually wonder if its existence is the very reason this became my home. The lessons are that powerful.

Anyhow, back to what brought me to the subject of grapevines again. Yesterday, the daily bible verse provided by the You Version Bible app on my phone drew my attention to John 15, a chapter in which Jesus paints a beautifully, detailed picture of Himself as the True Vine of Israel. In John 15:1-2, He says: “I am the true grapevine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”

As it is one of my favorite teachings, I opened my bible and studied every word of this chapter and, as I contemplated getting ready for church, I felt compelled instead to head outside to my grapevine. Pruning shears in hand, I stood and looked at a very daunting task. Though pruning should be an annual thing, I am ashamed to say I haven’t consfence of faith grapevine crazyidered it since the last time three years ago when I wound up having to call in a professional. Oh, my, so many vines, branches and twigs twisted and wrapped tightly everywhere! You can barely see the fence nor the couple of trees that live nearby. And you certainly can’t see the actual trunks of the vines. Just like last time, I was completely overwhelmed.

And, yet, I felt one of those, what I like to call, “God nudges”, and decided to just start. I chose a portion of the vine that had overtaken one side of my fence. I cut, I pulled and tugged and then cut and pulled and tugged some more. It was such a tangled mess that parts of my fence began to break away and splinter off as I pulled the twisted, ofence of faith brokenvergrown branches away. And, it was then that I heard God’s whisper deep in my spirit.

“This, my child, is why I want you to be thankful for those times in your life when I prune you. Just look at what happens when the branches of the vine go untended.”

I immediately dropped my pruning shears and stepped back to take it in. What I noticed most was not the growing pile of crazy, curly branches already cut away or the still daunting task ahead, but the fence which stood before me weakened, damaged and broken.  The branches had weaved their way through the gaps in the fence and weakened it to the point that, as I tugged the intertwinings, huge pieces of the fence broke off and splintered, falling to the ground. It was disheartening and yet enlightening at the same time.

I pictured in my mind that the fence represents our faith in God; and that faith is what separates a true believer from the world. When we are not pruned and are allowed to grow wild, not only do we become fruitless but our fence of faith will eventually fall away, leaving our lives unclear and tangled and our eyes set more on the world than on our precious God.

On the bright side, we all have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with not only the Master Gardener who is always willing to prune us for our ultimate joy and His ultimate Glory, but also His Son, an awesome and dedicated carpenter-by-trade who will always, in all ways, help us to rebuild our faith, no matter what, just by asking.

Thank you, God, for my grapevine—the one in my yard and the one in my heart.

Amen and Ehmen.