He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. John 15:2 (CEB)
On a sunny, muggy, Monday morning, I looked out over our front gardens. The flowers were blooming nicely…vibrant purple, orange, white, and green. However, the weeds were growing nicely, too. They tend to do that, especially around our yard, as neither my husband nor I possess much gardening ability. Every so often, we go out and work for a few hours digging up weeds so that the plants have more room to grow and shine. But, inevitably, the weeds return.
As I looked at the weeds eclipsing the flowers, I decided it was time to pull. Most weeds come out with a firm twist and tug around the base of the stalk. But dandelion weeds…they grow deep. Dandelions are the perennial flower of spring and summer. They’re pretty and colorful, but they’re also invasive and pernicious. They grow over, under, and through other plants that were intentionally placed within a garden bed until they’ve overtaken the entire garden. In a sense, dandelions are the schoolyard bullies of flower beds.
Dandelion weeds are impossible to pull by hand. They’re roots are too deep and too strong. Usually, I have to dig them out, either by hand or with a small trowel. (Okay, I don’t have a small trowel because I’m not really a gardener. I just get the big shovel from the garage to dig them out.) They’re very resistant to removal, and they always find a way to come back.
As I was hacking away at dandelion weeds, it occurred to me that we all carry dandelions within our being. You know, those anxieties, hurts, insecurities, or even negative patterns of behavior that persist even after we’ve pruned our hearts and grown as human beings. Our personal dandelion weeds are rooted so deeply within us that sometimes, we don’t even remember how they got there. And, removing them requires so much time, strength, and energy we sometimes feel it’s easier to just let them be. However, letting our dandelion weeds continue to grow and fester can suffocate the good fruit God is trying to grow in us.
For instance, one of my oldest and most stubborn dandelion weeds in insecurity. I’m constantly battling a litany of negative thoughts and feelings telling me that I’m not good enough. Some days, it’s body image. Other days, it’s decision-making skills. Still other days it’s worry that my own failures as a human being are going to somehow negatively influence my husband and children. These weeds wreck havoc in my life, causing me to feel anxious and depressed, and tempting me to just withdraw from the world around me.
God and I have been working on this particular set of weeds for decades. It’s a lot of mental and emotional work. It involves actively searching for the cause of my insecurity when I feel vulnerable, and making a conscious decision to either let the feeling go or do something about it. In other words, I have to actively burn the weed or turn it into something useful. Either option requires effort and a lot of help from God.
I share my own struggle with you not so that you’ll sympathize with me, but so that you’ll see we all have dandelion weeds that impact how we think and act. We all struggle with things buried deep within our souls. But, continuing to let those things grow is detrimental to the work God has called us to do. We can’t do what God calls us to do when we’re weighted down with weeds. If our soul is rooted with weeds, there’s no room for God’s good fruit. And God’s fruit is SO good!!
Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of God’s Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Imagine a life where these nine characteristics thrived within us. Imagine what we might do, what we might say, how our relationships might flourish, how much kingdom work might be done. This is what God wants to plant within us, but we have to make room. We have to prune. We have to self-assess. But, we can’t do it alone. We must ask for God’s guidance and revelation. We need to seek his wisdom and soul-tending expertise. And then, we need to use the tools he gives us to dig out those dandelion weeds so he can plant
the seeds of love,
the seeds of joy,
the seeds of peace,
the seeds of patience,
the seeds of kindness,
the seeds of goodness,
the seeds of faithfulness,
the seeds of gentleness,
the seeds of self-control.
This week, let’s commit do doing some soul-pruning. Together, let’s ask God to help us identify and begin the process of removing our dandelion weeds. Then, let’s ask God to give us his fruit for the glory of his kingdom.
Blessing and Peace,