Time for another lesson. Sorry I missed yesterday. Should have said in the first day that I would be posting periodically throughout the week, or maybe even sporadically, since I am not known for my routine schedule. In fact, routines scare me. I run from them like the plague. However, when I settle in them, I really learn to like them. But the commitment of a routine frightens me. I mean, what if I want to do something different instead? Anyway, I will post these semi-regularly. Which means, when I get around to it. Lesson 2 Easy Come, but Time to Go! Interesting that I am talking about doing something regularly. But that is just how God is. This is something that has taken me years to learn. And I have not arrived, but I do have a measure of success in this area, after being force into it by our Heavenly Father. Mind you, I went there kicking and screaming, but now I have settled into a (gasp) routine and I can't go back. Not weeding the garden, mind you, but in my heart and mind spending regular time with Him. I need Him just to breathe right now. I am desperate. In my garden, the weeds took root. In some ways, they were very easy to pull up because they were so big. But in other ways, it was so much more difficult. Let me explain. When a weed is small, it lays just under the edge of the soil, right near the surface so it can absorb water and other nutrients that fall off other plants when it rains. But as it grows bigger, the surface nutrients are no longer sufficient for the needs of the plant. So it takes root, and it grabs into the soil to pull from the earth what in needs to mature and produce seed. The deeper it roots, the harder it is to remove the entirety of the plant. And the more it rips up the soil in the process. It also, if it has gone to seed, scatters its offspring into the newly churned soil, which allows for deeper roots and quicker reproduction. Which equals ugly, at an alarming rate! In my heart, if I take the thought captive before it takes root, then I am rid of it before it has a chance to sprout and do its damage. But if I take that little seed, and coddle it by thinking on it, mulling it over and holding it in my hot little hands and heart, I am tilling the soil to give it room to root itself fully. I am ever so guilty of this. I have been hurt by some stinging words recently, and my mind is constantly drawn back to the words. Actually it is not so much the words that hurt, but the heart with which they were spoken. Well, the words hurt too, especially since they were not true. Now, it is perfectly ok, as we said yesterday, to be hurt by another person's words. But to grow them in our minds is not. But what if I do? What if I give life to those awful thoughts and let them consume me? How do I get my wonderful garden back? Get out the round-up. When you have to pull up those big suckers, you find other smaller weeds that were obscured by the big ones. They aren't really the main problem, but they will be if allowed to stay around. And since the big ones leave the soil tilled up, these little ones and all the other seed that fell when you pulled up the biggies are now getting great nutrition in that fresh soil, they grow really, really fast. And then they are deeper and harder to get rid of. So after getting rid of the big guys, you need to spray the entire area with weed killer. Then you spread fresh mulch around to protect that clean soil and keep the weeds from taking root again. The things that have transpired in my family recently have made a very fertile place for hurt to grow. And if I am not careful, I will find myself consumed by it, overcome by the despair of the situation, and thinking horrible thoughts about the persons involved. Then I will give life to those thoughts by retaliating or hardening my heart to the ones who did the hurting. And who does that really hurt? ME. Suffice it to say that when I said to take every thought captive yesterday, that is what I meant. And then I have to change my focus. But that is another post for another day. Back to pulling weeds. When you are angry or hurt and you act on it, or you have some other habit that you just hang on to, or unforgiveness reigns in your heart, or any number of other sins have found root in you, as the Holy Spirit allows them to surface, it is time to take action. You must obey His voice immediately, pull up those weeds and cast them out by confessing and asking forgiveness. You are doing this for 2 reasons: 1. to agree with God about your condition, and 2. to humble yourself and place yourself under His control. Then, you need to ask God how you got here and where to go from here. You might need to go to the person you wronged and ask forgiveness. You may need to make restitution. And chances are, God will reveal more sins for you to acknowledge and confess. Because usually by the time we get around to seeing our sin, it is pretty grown up and we have a mess of things lurking in the undergrowth. Once you make the deliberate choice to grow this weed, and make no mistake, we have a choice, it is easier to let something else in, and then a little more, and a little more, until we are left wondering how in the heck we got here. I have personally experienced this many more times than I would like to admit! After the major weeds are pulled up, it is time to spray the weed killer. I really like a product called Weed and Feed. It is a great little product because it does two things: Kills the weeds (duh) and fertilizes the soil. In the heart-garden, the Holy Spirit helps us weed out the sin in our lives, and then the He teaches us to apply the Word of God as our fertilizer. He uses it to grow us through the pain to make us more like Christ. And the more we read, study and apply His Word the harder it is for those weeds to take root in our hearts. The final blow is the power of prayer. As we nurture our lives by spending time with Him, sin has a difficult time hanging around. We fall so in love with Him and realize our desperate state, that He somehow protects us. That doesn't mean we wont face pain and hardships. But we begin to see the difficult from his perspective and realize that "what others meant for evil, God has meant for good." When the temptation comes to feel sorry for ourselves, or any number of other temptations come, we are more able to recognize them because we are connected to the Vine and are under the control of the Master Gardener. So what is He doing? And why is it so difficult? And now that the weeds are all gone, what do I do? Thats for the next few installments. For now, rest. After all, that is what gardens are for. Find a quiet place and rest in His mercy and grace for you. I will too.