“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Hebrews 12:15, NLT
Our backyard garden was in definite need of attention a few weeks ago, and I was amped to go pull weeds. Easy enough, right? As I sunk my hands deep into the earth, I could smell the scents that Spring brings, the warm sunshine all around, and the blessing of being able to dig deep into the dirt of a garden we haven’t been able to touch in a few seasons. What I had envisioned being a very routine task had suddenly transformed into a very visceral, Spirit-led experience. As I reached over to pull what seemed to be a standard, run-of-the-garden weed, I realized that particular one was going to take both hands and some oomph, and when that didn’t quite work, even more oomph…until I found myself on my behind in the middle of the garden, scalped weed-top in one hand, remainder of the weed firmly rooted in the soil, laughing at my inability to uproot what looked like a harmless weed. Thoughts like, “This is going to be a lot harder than I initially anticipated. This is going to take a lot longer than I thought. I can’t do this on my own,” ran through my mind.
It occurred to me I needed to pull out the big gun…the 16-inch spade. That weed had met its match and I was determined to uproot it and all of the others. As I dug down deeper and deeper, what looked to be just some run-of-the-garden weeds had roots that were anything but. Those deeply rooted weeds, if left unattended would suck every bit of goodness out of what is supposed to be fertile soil, and completely uprooting each of them was going to require patience, care, and a lot of time.
In those moments the Spirit moved…how these deeply rooted weeds in our backyard garden symbolized the deeply rooted weeds in my very own heart—stubborn, winding, gripping, and honestly, just plain disgusting. Personally, those deeply rooted weeds often come in the forms of unfounded fear, unnecessary worry, or pointless anxiety. For others, roots may grow deeply in the forms of idolatry, hostility, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissension, envy….
It wasn’t until I dug out that stubborn weed from tip to top in the middle of our backyard garden that I felt the sheer Joy of fully uprooting something so life-sucking from what is meant to be fertile, life-giving soil. I—and I’m not exaggerating—was geeked about it! I could not have imagined how Spiritually cathartic uprooting that particular weed was going to feel. Then, the stirring of the Spirit again…so simply, yet very profoundly, “This is how God feels when He uproots each deceptive weed from the garden of your heart that is rightfully His.” Boom. God is stoked to be our Holy Gardener!
Satisfaction amplified with each weed I fully uprooted, so much so that I found myself standing in the middle of the dirt, holding the uprooted ugliness and proclaiming out loud, “Wow! Look at that!” Can you even begin to imagine the Supernatural Joy our God relishes in each time we give Him permission to uproot a gnarly, bitter root from the garden of our hearts?!
Are we willing to invite Him into what can often be nothing but a surly weed patch, full of seemingly dainty weeds growing right alongside those stubborn, prickly, deeply rooted, better-just-left-alone or easier-to-ignore weeds? Are we willing to submit our hearts to the Holy weeding that is often a difficult, painstaking, how-long-will-this-take process?
Those bitter roots have no place in the garden of our hearts. They are smothering and encumber—sometimes altogether block—the Holy Spirit from springing up, breaking through, and producing sanctified fruit in each of us. It’s time to dig up, pull up, rip up, and fully uproot all of the gnarly weeds. Are thoughts like, “This is going to be a lot harder than I initially anticipated. This is going to take a lot longer than I thought. I can’t do this on my own,” running through your mind? Go ahead, grab your big garden spade and make an appointment with the Holy Gardener. He’s ready to turn over some new soil.