Outside our house (as many people do) we have a patch of garden. It’s not huge but during some water pipe replacement it was completely destroyed and it took maybe a year for the strata to replace the border and fix it. They put down something that stopped weeds growing and that made me very happy because although I have grandiose plans for plants – lavender lots of lavender – there’s too often more important things to do with money. So the black stuff stopped the weeds and kept it looking neat until that day when I could afford to plant.

It kept it neat until wind, rain, heat and time let the first weed peek through. I saw it and thought “Oh, I should pull that now while there’s just one.” But I had my hands full and was in a hurry. So I never ‘got round to it.’ Then there were two and I had the same thought, then four and eight appeared and I half-heartedly pulled a couple and promised to find time to sort it out. Then hot weather came and it was just far too much effort. Weeds even appeared in the tiny crack between wood border and pavement receiving the same ‘one-day’ threat of removal.

Some of them are pretty, flowers and spread that almost look like I planted them – maybe they are even some windblown seeds from other gardens nearby and not weeds at all. But, in the midst of dandelions, thorns, the indestructible brambles they might as well be weeds because all it looks is a mess. Then comes the point where for shame I can’t deal with the garden because ‘what will the neighbours think’ maybe if I leave it as it is then they will think I intend it to be wild… don’t even try to understand that rationale it’s irrational.

This morning as I prayed I asked God to please help me take it in hand and before I came here I went in the lovely cool morning, while no-one was around and spent 25 minutes or so dealing with the big weeds. Only when I got down, back aching, knees on the ground did I realise there’s a lot more in there than I thought and it was going to take several more sessions to clear properly. I wanted to run inside, come here and forget about it but there’s more to this than just the garden – as I am sure you can guess.

I didn’t intend to let weeds grow, I didn’t intend to have a messy overgrown garden but unless I keep on top of every weed every time it is far too easy to end up where I am right now. I read Nehemiah this morning, the end of the book and chapter 13 reminded me of my weeding. It felt to me that Nehemiah was looking around and seeing things sprouting, either long-standing things or new ones as they found out more about the Law. The chapter is a series of situations summed up by: “this thing you are doing is wrong and it needs to stop.” I pictured him racing around tugging on those suckers to get them out of the ground and out of the life of Israel. His cry of desperate trust.

Nehemiah: O God—my God—remember me with favor.

Nehemiah 13:31

Life’s like that, holiness is like that. If we give a weed an inch it doesn’t take long before we are overgrown and spending our time weeding instead of growing. We’re told to keep short accounts with God. He is the one who does the weeding most effectively. He can identify and pull those things that will distract, clog, hinder us – IF we let Him.

Let’s let Him do that – today, tomorrow and every day.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

James 1:21b The Message

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