Weeds in My Garden: Living a Fruitful Life

Weeds in My Garden: Living a Fruitful Life

Like a gnarly invasion of weeds in a garden, certain things persist to prevent each of us from living a spiritually fruitful life.

Despite our best efforts, an inevitable battle arises year after years. Prolific and persistent weeds resist every attempt to subdue them. No matter how vigilant our efforts are, their ornery tendrils refuse to surrender.

Though I no longer farm or garden, weeds push their seedy heads even among my container plants. Infamous for their vigorous growth, they choke out more desirable plants. They thrust their boisterous crowns through cracks in the sidewalk and pavement.

Weedy attitudes often press their destructive force in our spiritual lives as well. Just when we gain the victory in one area, another area proves in desperate need of attention. Hopefully, our spiritual gardens may not be nearly as weedy as they were initially. Still, God graciously and gently points out areas where untended thoughts, attitudes, or life-patterns continue. He desires that we display true beauty as our lives produce abundantly.

Fruitfulness and beauty mark any well-maintained garden or life. Anything that threatens requires immediate attention.

Thorns and Thistles

If we could turn back the pages of time and look into the ancient Garden of Eden, God’s perfect garden, thorns and thistles would be noticeably absent. They pushed their prickly force upward and outward only after Adam and Eve sinned.

” … Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food
from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles
for you … “
Genesis 3:17-18

Weeds in my garden

Once humanity shared perfect unity and fellowship with God. How difficult for us to envision a time without struggling to keep life on track! Thankfully, God promises to again partner with us. Successfully, tending the spiritual gardens of life requires this partnership — God with us!

“Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
Isaiah 55:13

With His help, we act against anything that chokes out the more desirable and beneficial traits that result in a flourishing life. In Him, we transform from thornbushes to long-living junipers and beautifully scented myrtles.

Vigilance

Here in Canada, we wait through cold, dark winter months for summer to arrive. We welcome the warmth of long, sunny days and fresh spring rains.

For many people, summer also welcomes camping and hiking, beaches and relaxation, vacations and ease. We all need times of rest and refreshing.

But beware! Let’s not allow a habit of ignoring the serious work of dealing with destructive internal issues. Apathy may give those weedy attitudes and life-patterns opportunity to take root and multiply. Solomon warns how quickly “thorns, weeds, and ruins” can take over.

“I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.”
Proverbs 24:30-31

Hoe and wheelbarrow

How does the enemy so quickly get such a firm hold on us? Like a tangled vine of deception choking out life, the taproots of unforgiveness suck away hope, or the seeds of perversion multiply unrequested. Pride dashes humility beneath its arrogant growth.

To keep the vineyard of our lives producing healthy fruit requires vigilance. The walls around God’s good work within us require continual maintenance to protect from theft or damage.

Little Problems

“Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.”
Song of Songs 2:15

Little foxes

Solomon warned that even the cutest little foxes will inevitably do significant damage to any vineyard. Let’s not wait until we see the evidence of destruction or until “little” problems become giants. May we each lead a fruitful life, eliminating anything which threatens.

Whether in relationships or ministry, minor problems may quickly escalate. Without proper attention hopelessness overcomes vision, despair replaces purpose, and fear uproots courage, and even the most fruitful life becomes sidetracked.

Good Seed

Jesus told a parable about a man who carefully chooses good seed for his field.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man
who sowed good seed in his field.
But while everyone was sleeping,
his enemy came and sowed weeds
among the wheat, and went away.”
Matthew 13:24,25

Damaged fruit

This is not the time to be caught sleeping! Satan’s emissaries come when we are off-guard or have lost our focus. Though we may not initially notice, the result becomes visible soon enough. He comes to destroy the good fruit intended to produce Kingdom purposes.

There was nothing wrong with the “seed,” or the kingdom investment the man was making. He made wise choices and worked faithfully. But while he slept, the field was ruined.

Take Action

We each have negative influences working in our hearts and minds. Some we easily uproot on our own; others need the support of counsellors, pastors, or mentors. Some disintegrate through repentance or renouncing; others take consistent accountability to keep us on track.

However, we should never ignore the destructive efforts of enemy tactics! Sin, like weeds, appears lovely until we try to free yourself from its effects. The more complex and enduring the invasion, the more strategic we become at their eradication. Few people overcome long term destructive behaviors on their own. Fortunately, compassionate, skilled workers are ready to come beside us, helping us to regain lost fruitfulness.

Let’s not allow complacency to delay action. To win this spiritual battle, let’s be vigilant through:

  • prayer and Bible reading
  • seeking godly mentorship and accountability
  • confessing to pastors or counsellors where we need help
  • humbly receiving the help offered
  • refusing any “quick fix”
  • live in faithful obedience to Jesus

Take comfort, my friend. We all have weeds in our gardens. Together we will overcome!

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I Am the Vine You are the Branches – Fruit that Lasts

Fruit that lasts - I Chose You

The thrust of winter is sending one final blast across the prairies, but I’m thinking spring. The garden awaits under mounds of snow; the deep rich soil is prepared for another season of bearing fruit and vegetables. Gardening may be one of my joys in life, but I have been called to more than what my hands can produce.

“I chose you and appointed you
so that you might go and bear fruit
fruit that will last.”
John 15:16

There is only one kind of fruit that truly lasts — what we do for God!

The Vine

When we moved into town, I decided to try an espalier experiment with an apple tree. It sounded like a reasonable solution in a small yard and my personal repulsion to ladder climbing.

I bought a young whip, planted it in a secluded corner, and began aggressively pruning. At times, I was concerned whether the little tree would survive the drastic cutting and shaping process.

Blossoms of promise

Any branches that were reaching toward the back were cut; as were the branches pointing forward. Only those reaching outward to the left and right were allowed to remain. Only the stoutest branches, those equally spaced 10″ – 12″ apart up the main trunk, were left. This would allow sufficient air flow between the limbs and provide full support to each branch by the trellis.

Year by year the little whip began to take shape. Not the shape of a “normal” apple tree with bows spreading upward forming a rounded canopy. Rather the shape of the trellis upon which the branches were fastened.

Every blossom was removed those first few years, so the tree would gain strength. My vision was set for the future.

The Gardener

After the last several years of pruning and shaping my little tree, I can understand these verses more clearly:

I am the true vine,
and my Father is the gardener.
John 15:1

Just like with my little tree, my Father is only leaving me with the “branches” of my life that are willing to stretch outward, to the left and right, toward others. Branches that are pointing too far ahead, toward the future, won’t receive the support needed to bear the weight of a heavy harvest. Those branches that are pointing behind, anchored in the past lacking the present light of Christ, will be susceptible to “disease” of grumbling and complaining.

My fruit bearing ability will not be secure in either the past successes and failures or of the future dreaming.  To bear fruit that will last, I need to trust the Gardener to know what needs to go and what should remain. He is shaping me for future increase!

Resistance

My little tree has a natural inclination to grow full and lush, spewing branches at liberty. Though more beautiful perhaps, it is not the way of fruitfulness.

Me too!

I don’t particularly like the pruning process. As a matter of fact, I quite detest it!

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,
so that it will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:2

One of the greatest challenges I face with my little tree is “suckers” that sprout up from the outfacing branches. Their wild quick growing nature saps the branch of precious nutrients. Worse yet, suckers aren’t fruit bearers!

Pruning for fruit

Interestingly though, when these upward shoots are pruned off a few inches from the main branch, the remaining stub will be the source of much fruit in the years ahead.

“No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4

Fruit bearing branches must be “connected” to the vine, the main trunk! It isn’t enough to be connected to another branch!

My main connection must always be with God. When I attempt to sprout out from another man’s ministry, rather than from God Himself, the result may appear healthy at first, but it will be unsustainable. Am I thoroughly connected? And where?

I am thankful for the “fruit bearers” in my life:

apostles and prophets,
evangelists, pastors, and teachers,
forefathers and mothers of the faith,
mentors and counselors,
steadfast, faithful, “waymakers”.

Though appreciative of their input, my sustaining strength comes from only One Source, the Vine Jesus Christ. To be a fruit bearer, I MUST be connected directly to Him.

Clusters

The second greatest problem that requires pruning are the “clusters”.

Clusters of blossoms

I’ve never been able to walk by an apple tree in bloom — never! I must stop to breath in the aroma of the fragrant clusters of blossoms, watch the busy activity of pollinating bees, and let my eyes feast on the intricate God design of each blossom.

The Gardener knows that each blossom will not produce fruit. In fact, each blossom should not produce fruit! The branch can neither nurture nor bear the weight of that much fruit. So, the Gardener sets to work, pruning even the fruit bearing branches.

This is the most difficult pruning for me to do in my garden. I want to see “abundance”, but wisdom tells me to trim, cut, and prune until only the choice fruit remains.

Clustered fruit will never grow to full potential. To ensure the quality of the remaining fruit, I must prune harder.

Humanly speaking, clusters are comfortable. Clusters are safe. We like to cluster! Denominational clusters, team clusters, recreational clusters, clusters here and clusters there! People naturally like to congregate in groups.

Clusters are good places to begin our faith journey. If staying in tight little clusters matters more than reaching out, we will never mature to be true fruit bearers. To touch the lives of those in our world, there must be a willingness to leave our comfort zones and stretch outward in love and care.

Chosen and Appointed for Fruit

As hard as pruning is, harvest will prove its worth!

As I walk around my little community, I notice apple trees flourishing in abundance. Each fall, large boughs bend earthward laden with enormous amounts of fruit. The appearance of fruitfulness is everywhere.

Harvest time demonstrates the true benefits of pruning. Every apple on my little tree is weighty, plump and full. Every cut I made with the shears was for the purpose of maximum harvest. Now it is payback time!

The reward of pruning - choice fruit!

While others are picking, peeling, and processing buckets of undersized produce, only those willing to prune enjoy over-sized rich fruit.

The same will be in my life! The Gardener knows! He has a plan!

“I chose you and appointed you
so that you might go and bear fruit
fruit that will last…”
John 15:16

God has chosen each one of us. He has called us out and appointed us to produce — to produce in abundance and to produce fruit that is eternal. The Gardener isn’t looking for standard garden variety outcomes. He is working in us and through us to prepare supernatural fruitfulness.

Knowing His plan allows us to endure the painful pruning seasons with grace and hope. We may feel naked and exposed during these “harsh” pruning times. Truthfully, God’s loving hand of wisdom and perfection is in every touch.

He is looking to the harvest; it is coming soon!