The Weeds

I have the most annoying vine looking weed that has thorns on it growing in one of the raised beds in my garden.  When I set it up two years ago, I fluffed the soil and added additional dirt, but I didn’t really pay attention to what was already around the area.  As a result, we’ve got this vine that chokes out whatever it is that’s planted along where it snakes around.  I went to grab it one day last year only to be stuck with one of the thorns.  Because I didn’t take it out by the root then or remove it properly from the garden, this year, it’s weaved its way around my flowers and nothing is really growing.  My flower garden is stagnant.

This is what happens when we allow sin to enter our lives.  When bitterness, resentment, and sin come into our lives, without taking the proper steps to ensure it doesn’t take root, it’s allowed to grow and fester.  It begins to take over our lives in ways we could never imagine.

God tells us that the fruit of the Spirit include joy, peace, patience, and self-control.  But when we aren’t properly weeding our faith garden, it affects those fruits.  The weed takes hold of the peace and leaves us with a feeling of jealousy that someone has something we aren’t able to have.  It stunts the patience we have learned to understand when the anger takes over at being passed over for a promotion we thought we deserved.  It strangles the self-control we have as we find ourselves trying to live in the world but not be of the world (Romans 12:2).  Those menacing vines steal the joy we have in the Lord when we don’t remove them…and remove them at the root.

Just as it is in gardening, we can pick the weed out.  We can pull at the vine to remove it to allow for more growth on the surface.  However, when we don’t remove the full root that it’s attached to, it’s allowed to continue growing and being a menace.

We can’t just ask for forgiveness of sins and “hope” it doesn’t come back.  We must repent—meaning to turn away—from what we have allowed to grow.  Then we must take the root out.  It may mean removing certain music from your life to prevent you from feeling a certain way.  It may mean reexamining your friendships.  It may mean recognizing that you need deeper study in the Word and less time on social media.  But when we take out the root, we remove the hinderance and can see the beauty in the growth of a full and complete garden.

This doesn’t mean that other choking vines or weeds won’t come, but when we take out the root of the issue, we can find our hope in the Lord that says we can be more vigilant about what may come next.  We can be prepared for what satan sends our way.  God can have the victory in our lives!

This week, I’m praying that God reveals what the weeds are in my garden so that I can take them by the root and remove them!  How about you?

~Erin

Fear Factor

This last Sunday at church, our pastor said something that has really stuck with me throughout the week.  He said, “The problem with fear is not that it exists.  It’s that we allow it to grip us and prevent us from doing what God has created us to do.”

I’m sure we’ve been at a point in our lives when we’re faced with a decision.  Perhaps we feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out in faith and start a ministry or lead a group.  It could be the decision to donate time and energy to a homeless shelter or make food for shut-ins.  Do our neighbors know the saving grace of Jesus Christ?  Should I join the church?  In any of those circumstances, we should be seeking God and looking to Him for guidance.

Yet often, we try to figure out what our next move is on our own.  We make a list of pros and cons.  We ask friends and family members.  We run to the internet for advice.  We’re afraid of making the wrong choice so we become paralyzed and then make no decision.  I’m guilty of this myself.  I’m great at making a to-do list for the Holy Spirit so He knows how it needs to end up.  Then I promptly ignore my own list that was useless anyway!

When the pastor made that comment this weekend, it made me wonder how often I do this very thing.  Fear is not bad.  But when I allow it to hinder me from living out God’s will for my life, it’s a sin. 

We’re told in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Am I saying that we shouldn’t be seeking counsel about big decisions?  Absolutely not.  But our first move shouldn’t be to the people or things around us.  It should be to our Heavenly Father who wants the best for us.  We should seek God who directs our path for what we should do.  He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us live this life.

And how do we hear the Holy Spirit?  I’m so glad you asked!  We need to be in our bibles!  We need to be praying!  We need to be studying His word and seeking Godly counsel.  All those things allow us a richer and closer connection to God.  That, in turn, allows us to be more attune to the calling of our Creator!

I pray as we continue through the year that we lay down the fear that prevents us from doing what He has created us to do.  Instead, let’s live out our calling with our eyes focused solely on God and trust His perfect direction!

~Erin