Dig It Out By The Roots

Spring is here! North Carolina is blossoming with all kinds of beautiful plants and trees!

This is when we start tuning up our lawn-mowers and equipment because we will be out there a couple times a week for months trying to keep our lawns looking spiffy.

Along with the lovely green grass, we have about 871403982704398 types of weeds. When everything starts growing, we see all shades of green, and a lot of different tiny flowers in our yards.

My yard looks like a patchwork quilt. Ha.

I have discovered why.

All those cute little flowers are attached to weeds. Weeds grow and choke out the grass. We mow over the weeds and their seeds spread, hence MORE weeds.

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We can spray weed killer, and that does control some of the madness. However, they always come back.

Apparently the only way to actually get RID of the weeds is to pull them out by the root and dispose of them. Otherwise, they keep spreading!

Does this require a lot more effort? YES.

Can you just mow over all those weeds and make your lawn look nice? Yes, you can. At a glance, when it is freshly cut, it looks just fine. Green. Lawn-like.

However, the weeds are still there. Deeply rooted amongst the nice green grass and choking it out. Then it starts growing again at a different rate from the grass, making the yard look uneven again. Usually, we just cut it back off. It appears to be green and even again, for a time.

This reminds me of our spiritual lives, our habits, our unhealthy relationships.

We can gloss over any of these situations, and for a time we can make everything look “green” and healthy. However, the more we continue to do that, the more those unhealthy things will spread through our spirit, our emotional state, and even our physical wellness.

Then, suddenly one day, rather than having a pin-pointed issue or two to work out, we wake up and find how deeply rooted and wide-spread that issue has become. If we had just made the proper choice early and pulled that mess up from the root, we would not have the long road of recovery ahead to dig out and heal a whole field of issues.

This illustration can represent an infinite number of things in our lives, so I am leaving it vague. Ponder it. See what weeds with “pretty flowers” come to mind and dig that stuff up!

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Something From Nothing

“How come I start out to do something and it always ends up being nothing?” wailed my five-year-old as the dilemma of defeat swept over him. At the moment he was trying to make an airplane with its intricate cross bars and propellers out of a large piece of wood, and it just wasn’t working out as he had visioned it. In his mind, there was a masterpiece of success; in his hand, he held two unrelated pieces of wood. And the tears just had to come.

By one of those strange means that all mothers employ, the conversation was moved from his failure to the story of creation and how God, the Great Creator, has made the world from nothing and upholds it by the Word of His power. My boy sighed and said, “And I make nothing out of something.”

My mind journeyed back through the years and I saw the many times I had gone before God, heartbroken, and cried the same cry of failure. Only mine were adult tears – shed because I had started to do something for Him, but had ended in failure! Adult sorrows, as my heart condemned me because some very good intention or vow had become lost in the maze of everyday problems and was unfulfilled.

I think, of all the weeping, repentant prayers that are prayed, most of them stem from vows made – and unfulfilled. Of sorrows that have come to us because we have failed.

“O God, I’ll visit the sick” we say, only to forget them in the business of our own schedules. Or, “Lord, I’ll work harder for you – I’ll find some place to do Thy work today,” only to admit at the end of the day that this has been like very other day; filled with our own desires and responsibilities of our own household.

Beautiful Sunrise over The Himalayas, Nepal

But wonder of wonders, God can, if we will let Him, make something from the nothing of our lives. To each of us each morning He gives the raw material of a new day. During that day we are capable of success or failure. The Psalmist realized his own inadequacies when he cried, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” I realize that daily God must do a work of creation within me, if I am to be anything of a success for Him. It must be all of Christ, and nothing of self.

When I try, I make nothing out of something. When I let God take over, He is able to make something from nothing.

(This article, Something From Nothing, by Rev. Gladys I. Johnson, originally appeared in Foursquare Magazine in November, 1958)

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Redeeming Lost Time for Grace Time

college-graduation

I felt a momentary twinge of sadness, regret even, when I noticed that the college graduations happening several weeks ago were those of my son’s former classmates.  Four years already? Was my first thought – how could it have been four years since his high school graduation? And then, the sadness.  Sadness that we were not celebrating Chris’s college graduation.  Sadness that his plans were interrupted.  Sadness that life sometimes throws a curveball.

How could we have known that day Chris came home after his sophomore year that the sleep deprivation he suffered was caused by hours and hours of nighttime seizures? Or that by following the brain mapping road we assumed would lead to brain surgery and a cure ultimately left Chris in the same place as before but with two years lost?

And then, it was gone.  My brief flirt with self-pity and regret was replaced with gratitude.  I mean, really? I was mourning the loss of a diploma and a party.  What I have instead is a son who is being transformed by God and his circumstances into a young man of grace and sincerity during these years of uncertainty.

Although he struggles daily with side effects from his meds and still experiences many seizures in the night hours, in many ways Chris is thriving.  His experience dealing with what can be a debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition has left him with a renewed vision for his future.  Each day he accomplishes something that brings him closer to owning his own business; with entrepreneurial dreams he looks to the years ahead with hope and not dread.

Just the other day Chris asked me if there’s a Bible verse that speaks to moving forward and forgetting the past.  I gave him this:

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

He and his business partner have decided to make that their theme verse for Innovate Clothing, LLC.

Yes. I can learn a lot from this young man.

What about you? Have you been haunted or filled with regret by what you see as lost days, weeks, months or even years?

God sent a big fish to interrupt Jonah’s life, then caused that fish to carry Jonah right to where God wanted him.  Your situation – dare I call it your Big Fish –  has been carrying you to the exact place you need to be when you are released from it.  You might say that epilepsy is Chris’s Big Fish, the time spent inside it is shaping him to be the man he needs to be.

This time is not lost time, it’s grace time.  What are you doing with your grace time?

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