Enduring the Weeds

by Ward Shope

I grew up on a farm where it took 8 hours to mow the grass on a tractor and then another 3 hours to trim. Needless to say, it didn’t get done in a day – but it was beautiful when it was done for the week. The soil was rich in nutrients and most of it lay low in a valley where it got plenty of moisture all summer long. So when I look at my little postage stamp of a yard now that takes me 20 minutes to mow completely, I am discouraged to see the brown and bare spots – let alone the weedy type grass that grows there.

A year ago, I decided I was going to get rid of the weedy grass. It’s not crabgrass (for those of you who know your grasses.) In some ways it is far more insidious, growing deep fibrous roots that are impossible to dig out and which spread the grass underground. It thrives in hot dry weather while the greener, softer and thicker grasses do better in cool moist weather. I searched the web for answers and it explained that lawn weed killers cannot distinguish the “good” grass from the “evil” grass. The solution: improve your soil so that it has more nutrients and retains more water. Then the weedy grass won’t have room to grow.

Other than digging up the hard, rocky clay soil I have in my front yard and replacing it, there is little hope – which is probably why I spend more time looking at the grass in my backyard. I suppose I could just live with it. After all, the weedy grass is green – and it stays green even in the hottest and driest weather. I could just have dirt, and it’s probably better than that. There’s a lesson in endurance there somewhere.

On the other hand, not all endurance is good. I tend to put up with a lot of things in my life that aren’t really good. Sometimes that is weedy grass, other people (not you of course!) or pets, but more often it’s my own selfishness, or my own judgment of others, or my own complaining for goodness(?) sake. Or worse! Putting up with patterns like that only allows them to grow deeper and spread. Combine that with a little stressful dry heat and there’s a pretty large patch of self-focused, others-discounting weeds. They may look like some ground covering to me, but they aren’t making anything or anyone beautiful.

By now you’ve probably noticed that I’m writing another parable of the soils. It isn’t so much that God’s Word isn’t being sown as I read it and hear it each week. It has more to do with the lack of nutrients in my own soil – er, soul. I love Isaiah 55:9-11 as it describes the power of God’s Word being like the rain in a desert to make things flourish. Beyond all of that however, I need the will to “put to death” (Col 3:5) all the sin that I just take for granted and “endure”. And I need to work the good soil that the Holy Spirit makes available so that the Word actually sprouts and grows and begins to take over my spiritual lawn (John 14:26). That makes it impossible for the weedy grass to grow and spread in my life. Just mowing won’t cut it. I need the Spirit’s landscaping overhaul.

Now, what do I do with my yard?