"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 21, 2013
I thoroughly find pleasure in walking through beautiful flower gardens. When Jon and I were in Singapore, we went to the Orchid Garden. It was filled with every variety and color imaginable. We had no idea there were so many different kinds of orchid. It was amazing! We both enjoy looking at nature and God's vast creation, and touring flower gardens is one way of seeing God's creativity.
I drive by homes and see yards that are meticulously landscaped with beautiful flowers and wish I had a yard that looks similar; but I don't want to take the time and do all the work that is involved in keeping a pretty lawn. Every spring I enjoy planting flowers and have a desire to make our yard look attractive, but when it gets hot out and the weeds start growing, I lose my desire. I want a pretty yard without having to put forth any effort.
A few days ago I was mowing and doing yard work. I haven't taken a lot of time in the flowerbed in front of our home and the weeds were out of control. First of all, I started trying to pull them out by hand, then realized that it would take me hours to get them completely cleaned out. So I got out the weed-eater and used it to trim down my crop of weeds.
As I was weed-eating, a couple of Facebook friends came to mind who have posted pictures of the gorgeous flowerbeds they each have at their home. I felt somewhat embarrassed that I had allowed the weeds to get so out of control. I would love to have beautiful flower gardens like they have, but I'm not willing to invest all the time and effort it takes to give them the proper care.
On the other hand, there is a house at the end of our street that always has very eye-catching landscaping. In the spring, they have brightly colored tulips around the perimeter of all the trees in their front yard. The flowers in front of the home are beautiful flowerbeds that always look attractive. But I happen to know that they don't do the work themselves. Many times I have driven by and there will be a landscaping crew busily at work in the yard; with their work trailer filled with their equipment parked in the drive. They do all the mowing, weed-eating, planting, weeding, and general maintenance required in keeping a gorgeous yard.
In Mark 4:3-8 we read this parable taught by Jesus: "'Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn't have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted.'"
Some of the weeds in my flowerbed had very shallow roots and pulled up easily. They had grown to become large, but all I had to do was give them a gentle tug and they came right out of the ground. Others were more stubborn and harder to get out. They may have been small in size, but they were hard to get out of the ground. Looks were deceiving because it seemed as if the smaller weeds were heartier and more deeply rooted than the larger, intimidating looking weeds.
It is easy to become busy with our life and put our spiritual life to the side. That doesn't mean that we forget about God, but that other things capture our attention and we get distracted. We don't give proper care to our relationship with God, and it doesn't take long for Satan to begin to plant some weeds in our life.
They can appear in the form of jealousy, gossip, bitterness, self-pity, being easily offended, and the list could go on and on. They may begin as something small and insignificant, but if we don't pull that weed and get rid of it, it will become deeper and deeper rooted, until it interferes with the growth of the good fruit in our life. It may be something that we see as being trivial and insignificant, but as it begins to grow and take over our attitude and speech, we realize how decieved we have been by the lies of Satan.
John 10:10 says, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." Another version reads, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
How do we receive and live the abundant life that God has intended for us? By not allowing the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy the good seed in our life; and by keeping the weeds out of our life.
Sin is another word for the weeds that crop up in our life. Catagorizing sin according to size, color, or in comparison to "major" sins doesn't minimize it in the eyes of God; it only makes us feel better about not repenting and allowing God to pull those weeds from our heart.
If we're not careful, weeds can appear overnight. But if we keep after them on a daily basis, then it doesn't feel so overwhelming when dealing with it. It's only when we neglect our spiritual life and then suddenly realize that we have a problem that it feels more than we can get rid of or deal with.
We cannot be like the family down the street who pay a company to do all their landscaping and yardwork for them. We can't buy our way into heaven, or get there on our good works, or because of our good family name. Just because our grandparents or parents were godly, doesn't make us godly. We have to individually choose to accept the love and forgiveness of Jesus for ourselves; and then allow God to water our life so that we can grow and be spiritually fruitful.
I can't count the number of times I've headed somewhere near work, but took the turn toward work instead of toward where I meant to go. I usually call that "the homing pidgeon effect", but Loretta and I saw a show with a minor comment that explains it well. I don't remember the quote exactly, but it was basically, "Sometimes by the time we get headed in the right direction, we forget where we're going."
That can apply in our spiritual lives, too. We can get so focused on attending every church event, singing the words to every song exactly on key, standing with everyone, sitting with everyone, and going to lunch afterward, that we forget that it was all meant to help us get more familiar with God, and become closer friends with Him.
I've also heard of several cases when someone was so focused on weeding a garden that they looked back to realize they had pulled all the flowers, too. Sure, you need to get rid of the weeds. But there's no need to get rid of flowers, even if they aren't blooming.
Some new Christians and many (maybe most) non-Christians get the idea that the need to quit sinning is the same as the need to quit having fun. That's like thinking you have to dig out the flowers with the weeds. God wants us to enjoy our lives. He just doesn't want us doing it in ways that aren't healthy for us or are offensive to Him.
Homemade Mac and Cheese
1 package large elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
Cook macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is boiling, melt butter on medium heat in a medium sized saucepan; add salt, pepper, and flour. Stir continuously. When butter is melted, add milk. Strain the macaroni and pour it into a pan. Cover with butter sauce and mix together. Add grated cheese on the top and put in oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.
My great-nephew started Pre-K this year. He is having a difficult time adjusting. On his second day of school, his mama picked him up in the afternoon and he told her, "My heart broke in two today." She asked why and he responded, "I wanted you and you weren't there, so my heart broke all the way in two. But you don't need to take me to the doctor for a needle (shot) to fix it!"
Hope is the feeling that you will succeed tomorrow in what you failed at today. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon