"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!'"
July 23, 2014
My sister, Janie, and I took a road trip to California last month. We left on a Thursday, morning and drove straight through to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We spend Friday morning sightseeing in Santa Fe, then drove to somewhere in Arizona, where we spent the night. Saturday morning, we drove to the Grand Canyon where we spent about 3-1/2 hours; then drove to Hoover Dam and spent an hour or two; then drove through Nevada.... and drove and drove and drove, trying to find a town with a hotel where we could spend the night. We got up Sunday morning and drove to Yosemite and spent three hours or so sightseeing there; then on to some town in California for the night. Monday we drove to Santa Cruz, where we went to the beach and spent a couple hours or so, then drove back to Fremont, where we stayed until Thursday evening. We then drove about 1-1/2 hours late Thursday night; drove several hours on Friday; then drove 24 hours straight in order to make it home by Sunday morning. It was a super fun trip and we got to see and do a whole lot during those few days! But as you can see, we also spend a whole lot of hours in a car riding and driving.
By the time we arrived in Fremont, my left shoulder had started hurting. I would wake up with it aching and some nights it would take a while for me to find a comfortable position where it would stop hurting so I could fall back to sleep. Then it began hurting while we were in the car and I would squirm around trying to find a comfortable position. By Sunday morning when we arrived back home, I was a mess! My shoulder hurt almost continuously and it was really pretty painful.
It felt as if there was something inside the top of my shoulder pulling backward on the muscles, trying to yank them down to my left shoulder blade as hard as it could. My neck was stiff and sore and hurt. My arm hurt. And my thumb had gone numb. I am usually a side-sleeper, but the one and only way I could sleep in bed was on my back. But after about three hours, I would wake up and be hurting, so would go downstairs and spend the rest of the night (or at least most of it) in the recliner. I'm generally a pretty healthy gal, so having something take this long to heal and to be in pain for that long, was a new ordeal for me. I like getting my eight hours (at least) of sleep each night, and having so many consecutive nights of being up and awake made me exhausted and grouchy.
The Monday after arriving home, I went to visit a chiropractor that I've known for many years; who also has been friends with my sister and her family ever since they moved to Tulsa over twenty years ago. He told me that the muscles in my shoulder had locked up, which was causing all the pain and discomfort. He also told me that he wouldn't be able to fix it after one adjustment, but it was going to take a while to get my muscles working and back to normal. I believe his words were, "This didn't happen overnight, so don't expect me to fix it overnight."
It has taken about a month of going to the chiropractor three times a week for adjustments on my shoulder and arm and thumb and neck to finally feel like it's getting better. It has been really frustrating because I wanted immediate results, and having to be patient and wait for these muscles to loosen up and heal and begin working properly was not what I wanted to happen.
I would pray and beg God to please take away the discomfort and pain and just let me sleep in my own bed all night long! But for whatever reason, He didn't immediately heal me. It has taken perseverance and time. Perhaps God knew if I received immediate healing that I would fall back into the old pattern of not listening to my body and taking care of myself, and He has been teaching me a lesson that I will hopefully always remember; and not fall back into old habits of not paying heed when my body is telling me that it needs attention.
At last, I am finally feeling like I'm about 90-percent better than I was a month ago, and I have hope that soon I will be even better than I was before I even left on the trip. For months prior to that, I would wake up and my shoulder would be sore or stiff and I would excuse it as having slept on my arm wrong or the pitfalls of getting older. But my body was trying to give me warnings and tell me that I had a problem, but I chose to overlook it until it became unbearable and painful.
In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells this parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in the field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
Tares is a weed that resembles wheat when it is young. So when the wheat first begins to grow, no one can tell the weeds from the wheat. It's only as the plants mature, that you can see which is which.
When Jon and I got married and moved into this house, there were holly bushes all along the front of the house. Three or four years later, I noticed that the holly bushes were diseased. There was mold on the bottom side of all the leaves. So I cut all the holly down and pulled them out of the ground. I then planted flowers and other bushes along the front of the house in that area. Nothing that I've planted has done well. It will grow for a while and look like it's going to be okay, but then it either dies or stops producing flowers. This year there are weeds that have taken over that entire area. I don't know exactly what kind of weed it is, but it looks like a vine, has little blue flowers on it, and grows like crazy. I have pulled it out over and over and over again the past few years, but it just continues to come back and seems to grow even thicker each time.
Sunday morning, Jon and I were talking about it and decided that I should mow over that area for a while, and then we are going to spray some weed killer and see if that will help; as well as a couple other things we've thought of that may (or may not) work. After the weeds are gotten rid of, then we will probably need to fertilize the ground to help restore the nutrients to it.
As we were talking about that area and how no plants have done well there since we pulled the holly bushes out, it dawned on me that we should have let the ground rest for a year or so between pulling out the bushes and trying to plant new things. The holly had covered the ground, so it hadn't received any sunlight for many years. I'm not a horticulturist by any means, but it seems as if all the nutrients have likely been used up. Had we let the ground set barren for a year or two and maybe used some fertilizer, it would have helped the dirt regain its health and it would have been strong enough to support new plants. Now, all it's good for is growing weeds.
Here's a truth about life: It doesn't matter how good we try to be or how godly we live our lives; Satan is a very real enemy, and he will try to sneak in and cause havoc by planting weeds in our life. Most of the time, it will be something so subtle that we may not even realize it's there, until it's a big issue.
I didn't realize my shoulder was as bad as it was, until my body could no longer handle me ignoring all the signals it was trying to give me and those muscles locked up tight. It was only then, that I was forced to deal with the problem. The aches began as something simple that only lasted a short time before going away; so I didn't pay any attention to them. I assumed if I ignored it, it would go away on its own.
We all have sinful, negative thoughts, attitudes, temptations, etc. that will slowly try to take root in our mind. At first we may shrug it off as being insignificant and nothing to worry about; but if we continue to ignore it, there will come a time when we will do or say or act in a way that we would never have done before. Those "weeds" have slowly crept in and started choking out all the good fruit in our life. That may not mean that we're a bad person or filled with evil or have a reprobate mind; but we have slowly become conditioned to having those thoughts and temptations influence our lives, and we indulge in them without conviction or regret. In fact, we may justify ourselves as being okay and as good as others. But when compared to the good strong fruit in our lives, the weeds have become dominant.
There is a quote from Rick Renner that says, "If someone deliberately sows bad seeds in our garden in an effort to hurt or destroy us, God will deal with them. But if we know bad seed is sown in our hearts and we just ignore it, allowing it to take root and grow unchecked, God will deal with us. We can't answer for the actions of other people, but we will answer for our inward responses to what others have done to us."
In the parable the Jesus spoke, the enemy came in and sowed weeds in with the wheat seed when the farmer wasn't looking. It wasn't the farmers fault because he had sowed the right seed and had done what he was supposed to do. It really wasn't fair that he then had to deal with a field full of weeds among the wheat. He had no control over the actions of his enemy, but he did have control over his response.
Sometimes there may be people who try and sow weeds into our life. It's not our fault and we didn't do anything to deserve them doing that to us. We can't control the actions and decisions of other people. But we can control our response and what we allow in our own lives. We can give the situation to God and allow Him to deal with those who would try and cause us hurt and try to destroy us. God can better deal with people than we can. It is our choice whether or not we allow those bad seeds to take root in our heart and destroy us and cause us to become bitter and angry. If we ignore our response, then God will deal with us, for we are responsible for our salvation and the fruit that grows in our heart.
We also need to be careful that we are never sowing bad seeds into the lives of others. If we are, then we need to check our own lives. We will probably see that we have more weeds than good fruit growing within us.
Weed control is something that is a never ending job. My front flower beds are overgrown with weeds because I haven't been outside every few days pulling them out. My shoulder ended up causing my big problems because I didn't take care of myself when it first started hurting. It's the same way with our lives. We need to continually be on the outlook for weeds that Satan has sown. It may be through the actions or words of someone else; through various temptations; through negligence of praying, reading our Bible, and spending time with God on a daily basis; etc. If we get rid of the weeds before they have time to take root, then we will find ourselves spiritually healthy and fruitful. If not, then we will find that we have a problem that may feel overwhelming. But God is the best weed remover we can ever know. All we have to do is pray and ask for forgiveness and ask for His help to get rid of the ungodliness in our lives, and He will do so. Sometimes the process may be painful, but in the end it will be well worth it!
How can you tell the weeds from the good plants? In the case of the pictures we saw of the wheat and tares, the differences are too small to tell the differences at first. But the tares are a little quicker to grow tall. Once they start to grow seeds, the seeds look a little different. And finally, the wheat is edible, and no one wants the tares.
And how about the weeds and good plants in our lives? Many times, the weeds are the quick reactions, and the wheat is the slower, more thought out response. The weeds tend to make us feel bad about others and ourselves. But the wheat ends up making us feel better. And finally, the wheat leads us to eternal life, but the weeds separate us from God.
Black Forest Pie
1 chocolate pie crust
1 small package chocolate instant pudding
3-1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
1 can cherry pie filling
1 cup cold milk
Spread 1 cup of Cool Whip on the bottom of the pie crust. Combine milk and pudding mix in medium bowl. Blend with a wire whisk or electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Fold in 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip. Spread the mixture over the Cool Whip that is already on the crust. Spread remaining Cool Whip over the top, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges and forming a depression in the center of the whipped topping. Spoon cherry pie filling in the center. Chill at least 3 hours.
My 5-year old great nephew has been attending VBS. One evening at the dinner table, he was telling his mom that to become a christian you had to ask Jesus into your heart. She told him, "That's right. You tell Jesus that you are sorry for your sins, and ask him to come live in your heart." His response was, "Good job, Mama! You did it!!
We must learn that, like farmers, we can't sow and reap the same day. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon