The job wasn't easy. Thankfully I had some help. A couple of students from our Sunday school class were helping me weed the large hillside in front of our house. I had let the dreaded task slide down my 'to do' list, until it hit bottom. Either I had to get the weeds under control, or they would definitely complete their stealthy hillside take-over. Some of the weeds looked like miniature umbrellas, with huge leaves that would keep the rain off of an entire family of rodents. Others favored the green, feathery portion of a carrot plant. Both varieties were roughly three feet tall and appeared to be growing by the minute. With garden gloves protecting our tender hands, we got down to the messy business of weeding.
It didn't take long to figure out that these weeds were not going to let go of the soil they'd claimed, without a fight. Time to break out the serious tools. Gardening trowels were replaced with heavy-duty shovels. Take that, you nasty weeds! You could almost see them cowering in fear. With shovelhead poised above the ground where the first offending weed was growing, I imagined it frantically waving a tiny white flag in surrender. As my shovel made contact with the ground and sliced into the soil, I knew within a few moments I'd be the victor - one square inch of ground reclaimed. Long, tuberous roots that had once held the weed firmly in place, would no longer provide a base of support.
Slowly, but steadily, we began to see progress. Hillside that had been completely covered with weeds, now had areas that would welcome real plants. But there was still plenty of work to do. I wondered if it would be easier just to use the weed-eater to finish the job. My husband reminded me that we couldn't solve our problem that way. The weed-eater might be able to cut the weeds down in size, but the roots would remain, allowing the weeds to begin growing again. Although roots are underground and can't be seen, they serve a crucial purpose. My American Heritage Dictionary explains that a root not only supports a plant, but it also "draws food and water from the surrounding soil, and stores food." It goes on to say that the root enables a plant to become firmly established, settled, or entrenched.
What a good illustration from the Master Gardener Himself. When I don't tend to the 'soil' in my heart, the tiny sin-weeds begin to grow, gaining nourishment from their roots. As the sin-weeds get stronger and grow bigger, the roots burrow deeper into the soil, allowing the sins to become firmly established and settled. Just as my Sunday school girls and I realized that it was much easier to pull small weeds rather than big ones, the same truth applies to our spiritual soil. It's much easier to deal with sin in its infancy, than when it's full grown. David had the right idea when he invited his Savior's careful scrutiny, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-24; KJV)
As I examine the soil of my heart, may I be quick to pluck the tiny sin-weeds before they have the opportunity to grow and develop deep roots. Our God is faithful to forgive us for our sins when we confess them (I John 1:9). He is able to create a clean heart in us and renew a right spirit within us (Psalms 51:10). Begin 'weeding' today!