Not much to your surprise, I’m fascinated by things that grow. A few weeks ago on a cool, fresh Saturday morning , I decided to walk the 9 miles to my sister and her husband’s house. It’s more near downtown Richmond, and until the day before, I had never considered walking there. Sometimes, my body craves a long walk. It especially helps when I’m feeling the emotions or needing to get good and tired. And this was one of those times.
Whenever I wanted to really get to know a city, like when I was in Athens, Greece or Florence, Italy, I would walk it for hours. I would intentionally get lost to learn and find my way home. I’d been thinking that I really don’t know my city that well. So maybe it’s because I haven’t walked it. I’ve been moving too fast driving by the things I don’t have capacity to pay attention to when in a car.
Anyways, for whatever reason, I made this urban hike my Saturday exploration. It was the best. Also, it was a little scary. I think the world would be better with more sidewalks, but that’s just me. After the first 30 minutes of no sidewalks and being extra extra careful, I found the route with sidewalks all the way there.
I passed by several different neighborhoods, businesses, and people I’ve never noticed before. I was captivated by the beauty of spring with peonies and roses in full bloom. I people watched, I listened to music and podcasts, I prayed, I saw a fallen tree in a yard that fell on the sidewalk, I watched as a little girl spun around making large iridescent bubbles in a park where others were picnicking. I saw more families together. SO many people tending to their lawns and gardens. I waved to people sitting on their porches and playing with their kids. People smiling, laughing, frowning, yelling, hollering, skateboarding, running, delivering food, picking up food, running, arguing, and tracing their kids bodies so they could color them in to look like dance moves!
Around hour two, my body was starting to feel taxed. I love the challenge of a good long walk. I moved around my arms to loosen up and played some music that helps me worship. And then I reached a fence with green kudzu hanging over the trees into the path. I’ll never forget this one stretch of sidewalk. So, to explain, I was walking in some beautiful areas. A lot of houses have well-manicured lawns and beautiful small front gardens I delighted in on this walk. Gardens I’ve never noticed before with beautiful gates and water features and different color schemes. It looked like people knew what they were doing. But this one stretch of sidewalk that was maybe a block or so was different. It looked untouched, unloved, and wild, in the bad way. Weeds were overtaking this stretch of my walk. All kinds of weeds coming from every direction. It was an incredible thing to be in an open sidewalk around cultivated land and then the next minute to step into the path that looked like nature was coming back for vengeance against me. I had a thought. I thought of the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light like kingdom of weeds versus the kingdom of cultivated gardens. This kingdom of weeds can take over so quickly when gardeners aren’t cultivating and tending to the land.
It made me think of the that scripture in Hebrews that talks of drifting away. This idea of when we are not abiding in Jesus and his Kingdom, what Kingdom is surrounding us suddenly? When we aren’t tending to the gardens of our souls with Jesus’s help, what weeds are taking over?
I left my garden for this past week while preoccupied with planning my sister’s wedding, and let me tell ya, the weeds multiplied like crazy. I simply cannot expect a static garden. Things grow. Good and bad. Things wont be the way I left them. This is not a plastic child’s toy garden where the plastic strawberry stays shiny and ripe forever. So, am I doing the active work to weed out the things that are unhealthy for the garden? Am I protecting it from the critters and bugs and birds? Am I making excuses for my lack of motivation blaming lack of time or feeling up for it? Am I missing out on the fruit of the garden for the weeds?
Well, its been a few weeks since I walked through the kingdom of weeds. I wondered who neglected that property. It made me sad in one respect, because those bad weeds (and there were some really bad ones) can spread around and effect their neighbors borders.
I’ve thought of that visual imagery of the weed infiltrated path often.
I remembered the songs in my ears while walking through that path. Those songs remind me that worship is a way to engage in weeding my wild garden of my heart. I thought how quickly I can forget to see the true priority of glorifying God through worship and relating to Him in prayer. I so quickly can look to those second things that end up looking more like control and plans and self-made identity. I can so quickly make second things, first things. Or worse, make life all about me.
I’m so encouraged that Jesus has a plan to help me remember Him as the true End.
I remember reading years ago about how Jesus is not a means to an End. He’s not an app on our phone or a friend who does things just so we are happy or something to add to our resume. He is the full Treasure of our lives. When we see and revere Him in praise and adoration as the one who deserves all the glory and all we have to offer, then our life is in proper order.
Today, I weeded my garden. It had been a while, and lets just say I barely made a dent in the weeds. They are strong little buggers.
While weeding I listened to a few talks and this quote has been sticking in my thoughts today. It’s from CS Lewis:
“To love you as I should, I must worship God as Creator. When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”
Oh Lord, would the cry of our hearts be to worship you and to be motivated by your love? Would your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven?
I do declare these words to you from the book of Luke chapter 11 verses 14-23:
“Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons," while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
So family , lets pray the Lord’s Prayer together to end our time together
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power
and the glory forever and ever. Amen.