There once was upon a time, in my younger days, when I had been taking great delight in building up my little back garden. I had a pretty, brick, raised flowerbed built for me that made me feel very happy indeed as I worked hard to create a cohesive, attractive layout of plants & flowers within it. Everything in the garden was looking simply rosy, and my gardening skills were growing little by little just as the flowers that I planted filled out the spaces to create a rather pleasing effect to the eye & a soothing effect on my heart & soul. I could sit out there in the sunshine & enjoy the beauty of the work of my hands besides that flowerbed as I relaxed at the end of a day’s labours.
So all was rosy in the garden
Then one day, just as I was driving along, I saw a very beautiful white flower growing by the side of a road. I quickly pulled up my car to take a closer look at this flower & as I did so and I gazed upon those intoxicatingly pretty white flowers I had a thought that went like this:
“Why pay for extra flowers from the garden center to fill my new flowerbed when such lovely flowers are available right here, right now, at no expense, completely free of charge?”
I thought they would look absolutely fantastic in my new flowerbed in my garden. So, on the spur of the moment, I bent down & snapped off a small cutting from this plant!
When I arrived back home I simply stuck it into the soil of my flowerbed & thought, well it either grows or it doesn’t but at least it hasn’t cost me anything to try!
Well, it soon grew quite prolifically and then dutifully produced its display of beautiful white flowers, decorating my garden in a very pleasing way. I felt a smug sense of satisfaction to see that it was clothing my trellis with its lovely trumpet shaped, pure white flowers which complemented the pink and purple flowers that were also in bloom at that time of year.
In a short space of time as it went on growing I one day happened to look more closely at this plant only to discover, to my absolute horror, that as a climbing plant it was wrapping its vicious tentacles around my other beloved plants, such as my clematis and my miniature roses! With a slight, but growing, sense of dread, I decided to get it checked out in a plant & flower book & identified it as the “Common Bindweed”!! Yes, the name says it all! It was a weed, and I very soon found out why it was named thus!!
Well of course, those of you who have heard of this “weed” will have realised my folly from the start of this tale, but in due course, I learnt a really important life lesson from this plant which I will share with you, if you will bear with me.
Now it was WAR!!
Anyway, I of course, attempted to frantically remove it. I started digging down into the soil to try to dig it up, naively thinking that it would be a fairly simple matter to do so, but found, to my dismay, that the whole flowerbed was, by this point, completely riddled with the root system of this plant! It was strangling every other plant in my garden both above and below ground. I was devastated! No longer was I lounging relaxedly in my sun-lounger. No longer was “everything rosy in the garden”. Now it was war! War against weeds! A desperate attempt was now launched to try to save all my previous hard work, and expense, of the existing flowers and plants that had been planted and gently tended prior to this lapse of judgement on my part.
In the end I had to dig out the whole flowerbed and dispose of all the soil and most of the plants. There was no other way to get rid of this invasive weed. The only way it was contained was that the raised flowerbed had a lining that had stopped it encroaching into the wider garden as well. As you can imagine, I vowed never to take a wild cutting again!
Whenever I see these flowers in the undergrowth by a roadside I always remember that folly of my youth. I always remember the lesson that I learnt both about gardening but more importantly about our spiritual lives.
I felt that the Lord then allowed me to realise that my picking that flower without checking it out in a reference book & just adding it thoughtlessly to my garden was a vivid picture of what can happen to our Christian lives if we are not constantly vigilant about what we allow into our lives. We can very easily be tempted by something that initially looks attractive but ultimately enslaves us and holds us tightly in its grip and then causes us to cease producing the fruits of the Spirit or the life that our Lord Jesus has designed for us.
We may allow something into our lives that initially looks good but maybe without much thought to check if it actually is “good for us”. Today there are a huge amount of “things that appear like genuine Christianity” but many are actually not so! There are many things that may initially appear very attractive; with pleasing music & much pleasant company, with comforting routines and easy-listening soundbite-services, with sumptuous Jacobs-join feasts & church-family outings. (Not that these things are necessarily wrong, of course, it is just that we must consider what doctrines we go along with to be part of such pleasant routines). There may be differing doctrines on offer & maybe you feel it is OK to just pick this one or that one that “seems OK to you” & add it to your life & your belief system just to see how it will grow. But what I have learnt (much of it learnt the hard way of painful experience) is that just as I should never have added that flower to my garden there are many things masquerading as Christian today that will entangle your life in the vice-like grip of the enemy of your soul until all the beauty of the true life of Christ in you will be strangled to a life of unfruitfulness for the Lord. In fact, Satan, as a great deceiver, will drag you down with his various weed-like entanglements that lead to full-blown sin against God if not checked in time.
I have just notice the following passage in Jeremiah chapter two, where God is expressing his verdict of the backslidden, idolatrous condition of the people of that day, who ought to have been loving and obeying Him. Jeremiah writes from the Lord:
“Has a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, and very desolate, says the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water….. Yet I had planted you as a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then are you turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?”
(Jer 2:11-13 & 21)
But it is not hopeless! Rather the contrary, as Jesus is all-powerful to set us free from all that binds us, should we wish to be free that is. He shed His blood just so we could be free. By confessing our sins and foolishness before Him, in humility, we can be released from the devil’s schemes and the things we haphazardly allowed to take root and grow in our lives. Things that we believed or practiced which the Lord reveals to those who seek “His Truth”, as abhorrent in His eyes. We should always check the reference book, which is of course, the Bible, to learn what is “good to believe & to do”. We shouldn’t be foolish in believing that all that looks attractive will produce good fruit in our lives.
Let us cry out to the Lord, to be much more discerning in what we accept as “truth”. Let us be more like the Bereans who were commended for checking out the the scriptures to see if the new information they were told was in fact correct.
Be wise, not foolish!
I was a great fool in regards to that wild flower when I thought, “well it either grows or it doesn’t but at least it hasn’t cost me anything to try!” The cost was that my whole flower bed & all its previous (& hard worked for) contents had to be completely destroyed! Do we want our lives to end up in such a mess simply because we have been rather too complacent with attractive things we added, a little too thoughtlessly perhaps, to our lives without checking the reference guide thoroughly?
May the Lord increase all our spiritual discernment & desire for holiness in an ever increasing fashion.
May God bless you
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