Weeds, sin, and hope

Pulling weeds tends to make me philosophical, because there is not a whole lot else going on. That means that I have an abundance of time to be philosophical this summer, as my full time job consists mostly of pulling weeds.

One thing that I tend to think about a lot with weeds is how they're like sin, how pulling them is like sanctification. So here are some thoughts for the week.

It leaves you far more sore and exhausted than you think you should be.

Especially for the first two or three days, I hurt all over. It was awful. I got back to the house where I was staying, went into the bedroom, and fell asleep on the floor for, oh, a good hour. And I felt absurd about it... I mean, all that I did all day was pull little plants out of the ground. It doesn't sound like it should be that hard.

I think I tend to do that with sin too. It can't be that hard to not be selfish. It can't be that exhausting to hold your tongue.

Yes it can.

The little weeds are often the worst.

The big ones are easy to spot and at least have something there for you to grab onto. The little ones are what really exasperate me, because they are everywhere and I can pull them up for hours on end and come away with only a few handfuls worth of green. I was afraid my boss would think that I was slacking, because it doesn't look like much in the barrel. And no one is going to walk past and think, Oh, how lovely, those nasty huge thistles are gone. Because... be realistic. No one even notices the tiny weeds. They certainly won't notice their absence.

I think the less visible, more ordinary -- more "acceptable" sins -- can easily be harder to uproot in our lives, too.

They come out easier after a storm.

After rain pounds the earth and lightning flashes overhead and thunder cracks, the dirt is soft and the weeds come out, with their roots still attached. So they won't grow back.

I don't like it, but I'm suspecting that sin comes out of our lives more completely and more readily after God has sent huge storms to get us ready.

A break is a wonderful thing.

Lunch break, especially... I come back from that and see weeds I was entirely missing before, and I am in a much better frame of mind to pull the weeds.

Maybe it helps with sin, too, to remember to look at something positive and not keep looking for nothing but the sin until our eyes glaze over.

The ones that look pretty can be the worst.

That one kind of speaks for itself as far as sin goes.

As far as weeds? Well, one word. Buttercups. My landlady and I discussed this... she had a good description of them -- snakey roots. They never all come out.

Weeds seem to like growing near similar looking plants.

Sure, laying mulch and planting other flowers may help to keep them at a minimum, but some will sneak in there. And they will probably be the sort that look nearly exactly like the flowers that are supposed to be growing there.

I'm pretty sure The Screwtape Letters speaks to this.

The stupid things keep coming back.

Enough said.


But there is hope. The flowers grow, along with the pile of weeds. People walk past and smile. My supervisor is pleased. He's looking more at how diligently I am working and how well weeded the flower beds are rather than what I've gotten rid of. (I think Dallas Willard would approve of this perspective, because he'd say that Jesus approves. We're told what love is, not what it isn't. A good flowerbed isn't one that has generated a barrel full of impressive weeds. It's one that has flowers and is clean, one that has nice crisp edges.)

When it storms during work, we all congregate in the garage and watch the lightning and laugh together.

We drive down the road and sidewalks to get to work sites, wind in our hair, feet holding us in the cart.

And there is sunshine.

And slowly, with many setbacks, we are working against the curse that the land will bear thistles and weeds, working as God did at creation to divide things as they ought to be divided.

And it is good.


  1. hey, I have one more observation. They flourish in the neglected areas. Today I moved a big stack of scrap lumber that is waiting to be burned. Thistle heaven! I guess you need to get the junk out of the way and find the weeds that are hiding.


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