Weeding Yields Renewing

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time pulling weeds this summer. Our driveway, along with other areas in our yard, slowly became overwhelmed with weeds. Therefore, the daunting task of weeding needed to take place.

My husband and I devoted one afternoon to weeding our driveway. We quickly realized we may be in over our heads! We decided that we should have used weed killer to rid us of our woes. So, we did just that.

Within a day, our weeds had turned brown and dried out. After a couple weeks, we were still left with these nuisances. Not only were the old ones present and decaying, but some new ones began to sprout.

These weeds were more than just an initial eye sore. Quite frankly, they were a burden. Nevertheless, I dedicated more of my hours to continue with this painstaking task.

I began to weed, again, one day after a rainfall. Since the ground was softened by the rain, it was easier to remove the weeds. I wished I had known that sooner! Then, I felt that it wasn’t so bad after all. The more time I spent, I felt at peace being in solitude. While soaking up the rays of the sun and breathing in the fresh air, I felt a renewing.

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There’s an interesting correlation between these weeds and the sin in my heart. I am tempted, by the enemy, many times in every given day (1 Peter 5:8). Each time I succumb to Satan’s temptations, a new weed of sin sprouts. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.- James 4:17 (NLT). And, each time I try to deal with my own sin or justify it, I’m left with the present, decaying weeds of sin. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.- Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV). 

When sins make their way to the outward surface, they are viewed as an eye sore to others. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.- Luke 8:17 (NLT). But, more than that they are a burden to my heart.

Just like a rain softens the ground, the living water of Jesus softens my heart. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ John 7:38 (NLT).

I must give Him complete control of my heart by asking for His forgiveness and grace. Then, He will weed those areas of sin bringing my heart to purity. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.- 1 John 1:9 (NLT). 

Furthermore, being in solitude with Jesus provides me with the peace that only He can provide. Breathing Him in and soaking up the mercy of my Savior is my renewing!


But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”- Titus 3:4-5 (NLT) 

Offenses

I have to admit, I’m a person who becomes easily offended. When people say things, I tend to replay their words over and over again in my mind.

I pondered this for a long time- wondering why this has come to be. I found the culprit to be in our culture. Someone seems to always take offense against someone else. Men vs. women. Blacks vs. whites. Working people vs. non-working people. Heterosexuals vs. homosexuals. Republicans vs. democrats. And the list doesn’t stop with these.

These grand scale offenses must come from a long-term collection of smaller offenses. It just doesn’t occur overnight. And I, for one, have allowed myself to fall into the trap of collecting small offenses in my heart.

The moment that I pour out my heart’s offenses to someone other than the one who offended me, I have sinned. It becomes a complaint. It taints the perception of that individual in someone else’s mind. It turns what could have been a blessing into a curse.

“And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds.., but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”- James 3:6-10 (NLT).

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It surely is not right! Taking offense to a person causes more harm than the words they spoke to offend me. I can assure you I that I don’t want to be that kind of person. Nor does God want me to be that way. His instructions for me are concise:

  1. Ask God to show me my offenses and the source in which they come from. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”- Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
  2. Express my sincerest regret of my wrongs to Jesus, who saves and frees me. “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”- Acts 3:19 (NLT)
  3. Confess my fault of offense to the one who offended me. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”- James 5:16 (NLT)
  4. Resolve in my heart to extend love for that person moreover the problem. Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”- Proverbs 10:12 (NLT)
  5. Steer clear of offensive ways defined by culture. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”- Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I must cease from defending these collections of small offenses before they ever have a chance to become a grand scale offense. I have now been made aware that God gives me a provision for my offenses. He can take the sole responsibilty of those offenses. And, He can block them from penetrating my heart. Praise and thanks be to God Almighty!


But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”- James 3:17-18 (NLT) 

From the Garden to Glory

Very recently, my family and I have been confronted with tragedy. A small gift that would come to a screeching halt leaving confusion, anguish, and despair. We learned of a pregnancy that soon became a miscarriage.

After comparing two ultrasounds, 11 days apart, the doctors revealed no progress. Our only given hope was found in a mere 1% chance of viability. Slim odds to be challenged by blood work for proof. The proof became closure that, in fact, there was no chance.

I can assure you that I’ve been through many hardships in my life. But, nothing, could prepare my soul for the whirlwind of emotions that would come.

I have to admit, it was hard for me to seek God in prayer. Not because I blamed God- no quite the contrary. I found it difficult to be joyful, praise Him, and thank Him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) while experiencing such a deep, emotional pain.

However, I had a great army of friends praying for me and encouraging me. I was guided to listen to ‘The Garden’ by Kari Jobe. And, what an inspiring depiction of Jesus to comfort me during my personal journey.

I re-read the scripture of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was given reassurance that I was not alone in my feelings of confusion, anguish, and despair. My beloved Friend, my precious Savior, Jesus Christ, encountered the same emotional and physical pain.

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Through this time, I have been grieved with confusion. I am left pondering the question, “Why me?”, “Why should I have to endure this kind of hardship?” I imagine that Jesus asked the same. “Why should I, who has never sinned, take upon myself all the sins of everyone in all existence?” Now, of course, I am paraphrasing. But, here’s what Jesus does say in scripture, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me;” (Luke 22:42a-AMP)

I’ve shed many tears in my life, but nothing like the deep, bellowing, uncontrollable streams that have poured out during this time. Oh, the anguish. But, Jesus- He knows what I’m going through, and even more. I never got to the point where my pain caused me to nearly die, but, Jesus did. “And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.” (Lule 22:44-AMP)

When I was given a 1% chance of viability, it was my “last attempt” grasp for hope for this child to thrive. Then, came the despair. No more hope. No chance. Jesus, who had been given holy power and authority by his Almighty Father, could have walked away from the destination of the cross. But, he knew there was a 0% chance of eternal life for God’s created people whom He loved so much. Imagine the despair. “yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42b-AMP)

I have great consolation in Jesus’ experience. However, just like Jesus, I know my journey does not end in the garden. Just like Jesus, I know my journey does not end on Calvary’s hill. Just like Jesus, my journey does move onward with promises for hope, peace, and joy.

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:11,16-18) 

Just like Jesus who was resurrected and ascended into glory, I will be given restoration and the ability to rise again. And, for this reason I am able to be joyful, praise my Jesus, and thank Him for my promises.


“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”- John 16:33 (NLT)

Routines

I have the inherent need to thrive on routines. I am a lover of consistency, plans, and control. Some may believe this to be both a blessing and a curse, but I choose to see the blessing in it. After all, I am created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Becoming a parent has been my life’s greatest challenge in dealing with routines. From the moment I became pregnant, I entered into a world of unknowns. Without blood tests, ultrasounds, and physical growth, I had to depend heavily on faith. Even after my child was born, I have daily battled with ‘what ifs’.

While pregnant, consistency in doctors appointments helped to relieve my fear of the unknowns. Planning for my child to enter this earth, with all the baby essentials, helped maintain hope for what was to come. Controlling what foods I ate and the environment that I was in helped to increase my faith that he was healthy and thriving.

Since he came and he continually develops, I do my best to provide consistency in routines. I strive to plan ahead for meals, trips, appointments, and activities. I make an effort to control his environments. All to provide a sense of safety, stability, and support.

But, not every routine can have consitency, be planned out, or be controlled. Every day brings a different challenge and possibly a change. And regardless of what my day brings, I can trust in my God who does not change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.- Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). 

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When my flesh comes against the unknowns of this earth, I can spiritually depend on God who fulfills everything that I lack.

God is consistent“I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6)

God lays out His plans for me. “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And God is in control“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) 

God is the Author of routines. And, all to provide a sense of safety, stability, and support.

  • This I declare about the LordHe alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. (Psalm 91:2) 
  • And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:6) 
  • You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. (Psalm 18:35) 

God created all things. Even down to the fabric of my being. I am grateful that He revealed to me the blessing in my inherent need to thrive on routines. I wholeheartedly testify of my God-given ability to seek consistency, plans, and control. And when my flesh fails me, I have confidence in my faith that my God will never fail me (Deuteronomy 31:8).


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—… Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.”- Colossians 1:15-17 (NLT)

Keeping Score

Have you ever kept score of all the wrongs someone has committed against you? I’m sure you know what I mean. Like when someone says something that hurt your feelings. Or, when an expectation of yours was never met by someone. Or, when you’ve done so many things for someone else and they don’t return the favor. I know that I’ve been that person to keep score.

In fact, I have an impeccable memory when it comes to storing all this kind of information. It’s like having a filing cabinet with said person’s name written across the front. ‘I’m sure glad that I paid you a compliment and you never reciprocated a compliment back to me.’ Let me file that in my “Payback” folder.

Wow, how ugly those feelings sound when typed out before my eyes. And, yet, I lived much of my life feeling and acting this way toward others.

Learning to live like Christ is a lifelong process. It’s in this process that I am being perfected. It wasn’t until I implored the Lord to show me my faults that He brought me out of my denial and ignorance.

It’s a sin to keep score of someone else’s wrongs. By tallying them up, I never fully resolve in my heart to forgive them with each occurrence. If I want others to reciprocate their love for me, I must commit myself to never retaliate by being unforgiving.

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I had allowed my heart to be hardened. Unforgiveness is an infection that will continue to build up if left untreated. I had to learn to stop keeping score with my dearest family and friends.

God is still in the process of healing my heart. And here is what I’m learning through this journey:

  1. In every situation, I must ask Christ for His forgiveness. I must resolve in my heart to repent (turn away) from this act of sin. This is to free my heart from the bondage I created for myself. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. -1 John 1:9
  2. With each individual, I must go to them and confess that I am in the wrong for tallying up their “wrongs”. It’s only then that God can open up the pathways to my heart and allow healing to occur. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed… – James 5:16 
  3. In all things and all ways, I must choose love. Regardless of my thoughts or opinions toward others- and whether I feel if they are wrong- it wouldn’t change a thing. I must show my love and pray for them. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrongedIt does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. -1 Corinthians 13:4-5

People tend to respond to us with what is given to them. When I choose to retaliate my feelings based on someone else’s behavior, it continues a vicious cycle of wrongs. When I choose forgiveness and love, then, those people are able to reciprocate with forgiveness and love in return.


Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”- Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)