I shared much earlier this spring about the plant babies I started inside in my bay window – bachelor’s buttons, zinnias, and lavender. I’m always so eager to get my hands in the dirt and see something growing as soon as any hint of spring wafts through the air. My zinnias and bachelor’s buttons took right off, but my lavender just sat there. So, I did some research on growing lavender, and I found out – it’s not all that easy to start from seed. The seeds do best when they’re planted in the fall and can feel the chill of winter before the warmth of spring. I also learned that they can take an incredibly long time to germinate. And when they do germinate, they don’t look like lavender right away (this, as you will see, was a crucial piece of misinformation for me…) So, I didn’t throw out the pot I had started in my bay window. I waited. At long last a tiny sprout emerged. I was so excited. At least one seed had germinated. It didn’t look like lavender, but I was trusting the information I had gleaned online, that it might take time for it to look like lavender.
Here I sit in mid-June, with a plant that is most certainly NOT lavender. The bigger it got, the more my doubts grew. Finally last week I had my plant ID app take a look at it. The confirmation was clear: This is a WEED. I had a good laugh at myself and threw it away.
Of course in light of the post I just wrote about the weeds in my hillside garden and the weeds of fear and anxiety in my heart, this new discovery got me thinking along a new line about weeds: What am I cultivating in my life? Am I cultivating things that are healthy and beneficial and desirable, or am I cultivating weedy practices that choke out life giving ones?
I spent some time in the weedy hillside garden this morning. There’s this one really pretty weed – crown vetch. Its leaves are fernlike and dark green. It has lovely light purple flowers all over it. Many have admired this pretty weed, and I did too last spring. That is, until I saw what it is capable of. What looked like a harmless pretty weed that would help stop erosion in the sandy, hillside garden, turned out to be as invasive as all the websites warned me it was. Before too long, I found myself needing to literally rip it limb from limb because it was completely overtaking the other desirable plants in the garden. You can see from these before and after pictures what a giant monster it can quickly become. If I allow it to grow unchecked, it totally takes over the garden. It chokes out the plants that I actually want to be growing.
I’ve learned from the weeds that I’ve accidentally and intentionally cultivated in my pots and gardens that I need to consider: What am I cultivating in my life, in my heart and mind? Am I feeding anxious thoughts with more anxious thoughts? Or am I ripping those suckers out as fast as I see them emerge? Am I cultivating a lifestyle of being overly busy and over-committed so that I’m too drained and living in survival mode? Or am I cultivating space, rest, and peace for myself and my family? Am I feeding the cravings of materialism and greed? Or am I exercising self-control and cultivating contentment? If I cultivate unhealthy practices, just like weeds they will quickly grow into monsters and choke out the good things in life.
Because the Bible was written during a time period when the world was largely agrarian, there are many references to sowing, cultivating, soil, reaping, and harvesting. Here are two that speak to the point of this blog.
First, Jesus’ famous parable of the sower with four types of soils encourages us to have hearts that are ready to receive his word, free of hard rocky spots where truth cannot dwell, and free of weeds that will choke out the truth, and protected from “birds” which may be lies of the enemy, distractions, or other pursuits that come and steal the truth (Matthew 13). This passage certainly encourages us to consider what we are cultivating in our hearts. Do our daily practices cultivate truth and give it a place to grow? Or are our hearts to full of bitterness, sin, lies, etc? What are you cultivating?
Second, in Galatians, we find the famous adage, “you reap what you sow.” Galatians 6:7-8 says,
“7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” After this comes the encouragement to continue sowing good: “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
So whatever it is that we are sowing with our lives, that is what we will reap. If we are sowing seeds of busyness, we will find ourselves with an overcrowded schedule. If we are sowing seeds of rest and peace, we will likely find space for those things in our hearts and homes. If we are sowing seeds of fear or anxiety, our hearts and minds will feel troubled. But if we are instead meditating on the truth, then we will experience the freedom that God intends for us to walk in. I don’t know what other kinds of seeds you may be struggling with sowing in your heart and mind, but these are the issues that are foremost in my mind right now.
When I start to sow the wrong kinds of seeds in my heart and mind, I’m going to picture that ridiculous weed that I accidentally grew in my bay window for three months! I’d never intentionally cultivate a weed in my flower garden or bay window! Why would I cultivate one in my heart?! Why would I give anxiety one moment to dwell there, knowing the giant monster it can become? Why would I entertain my fears and what ifs? – cultivating them only makes them more overwhelming. Instead I want to cultivate God’s truth in my heart and mind. I encourage you today to take a moment and assess what you are cultivating in your heart and life. What are you allowing to grow by the seeds that you are sowing? If you don’t like what you find, what changes can you make so that you are sowing seeds that are pleasing to the Lord and building the kind of life you want to live in? Maybe we need to start sowing some new seeds and hacking out the weeds we’ve let grow for far too long.