I visited a friend one day a few years ago who has since moved to a different state. She had invited me to dinner at her home in the country. She is not a wealthy woman, in terms of worldly wealth that is. Her house was without many on the modern amenities that our 21st century sensitivities consider necessary—like an indoor shower or tub, or central heat and air conditioning. The foundation was crumbling, but should last another fifty years (she was told). The electricity was scary, and the breakers were so weak that she had figured out down to a science what appliances she could or could not use together.
Now this is not say that she was in any way lazy. Far from it. She was taking courses to become a paralegal, and had plans for starting a new career, a courageous move for a woman in her early 50’s. At this time, she was driving a cab, received a small pension from her military husband now deceased, and although tithing money was difficult, she was very ready to “tithe” her time and talent. She helped to build a beautiful raised garden for her church’s daycare center and procured the soil from a local contractor—for free! (Yeah, she’ll be good at her new career in the legal system…) And organized! Within her home she housed two small personal libraries: the “fiction” section was arranged alphabetically, and the “non-fiction” was by the good-ole Dewey Decimal system (for those of us who still remember what that is).
All this to say that her life is one of plentiful lemons, out of which her lemonade is sweet. And my friend is not one to complain. However, even the best saints have times of being, well, overwhelmed. One day in particular seemed difficult when, in addition to everything else, her lawn mower died. Living in the country on her couple of acres, this was not an immediate problem, but when the grass and weeds became knee high and higher, it was just another brick on the load, considering her sense of aesthetic. On top of everything else going on in her situation, couldn’t she at least have a mower so she could at least knock down the weeds? And she told the Lord so. I mean, really, it wasn’t like she was asking for the “Yard of the Week” award in her small rural town! If God could bring up the sun every day, couldn’t He just give her a mower? Was that asking too much?
Feeling this frustration, she then happened to stepped out onto the back deck, (that’s where she has to take her “shower” by pouring water over her—no neighbors, of course), and she saw one of her many weeds blossoming. It was the most exquisite flower she possibly had ever seen! Even exotic—and in southern Missouri?? It looked like something from a tropical paradise. Pulling out one of her many books (from the Dewey Decimal section), she found that it was called a “Passion Flower”. Within short order, she dug out an old trellis and supported the plant so that it could grow up the side of the house, and soon, she noticed that in addition to the beauty of the flower, the passion fruit began to develop. (Have you ever priced passion fruit in your local grocery, that is, if you can even find it?)
And God spoke. If He had provided a lawn mower when she had asked for one, she would have repeatedly mowed down this beautiful plant He had been trying to give her. The “weed” was actually a gift, one of both beauty and fruit. A few things come to mind:
- Weeds are unsightly, unpleasant, and sometimes even harbor uninvited guests (like ticks!). Weeds in our lives are the same, and try as we might, there are times when all we want to do is mow them all down rather than actually pull them up. Unfortunately, simply mowing them down doesn’t get rid of them, it only postpones the inevitable—the weeds grow back.
- Sometimes God allows the weeds to grow despite our best efforts be get rid of them, because there is something more important within the lawn of our life, some beautiful gift that we keep cutting down with the other “weeds”. It may be that we have to be overwhelmed by our weaknesses in order to be overwhelmed by His grace and glory, by His love and special care.
- We have gifts hiding in us that can only be brought to life and full fruit by this grace, and by His timing and wisdom. God must break our lawn mowers (our own efforts, our pride, our selfish motivations and deeply hidden fears), allow the weeds to grow, so that he can identify the plants He plans to keep, and the ones He plans to get rid of once and for all. He is, after all, the Master Gardener.
My friend said she would like to give me some of her passion fruit—she’s like that, has nothing and gives everything. But not until it ripens. It comes in two different colors when it is ripe and she’s not sure yet which one she has… she found this out in her reading. It’s a new gift from God, so she is diligent about researching it, watching it develop, and sharing it. And she is waiting until the right time. She encourages me by her example to do the same with all the gifts God has given me, especially the ones that take me surprise.
Isn’t that just like God’s own “passion” for us???