This week, a dear woman in our church came to our home to clear out our flower beds. She loves to garden and noticed that we have quite a mess on our hands. She got to our house at 9 am and spent the entire day blowing leaves out of our flower beds. We live on a large property and the previous owners did everything to the 9’s. There are plants everywhere! We have huge trees that turn beautiful colors in the fall and then shed their leaves. All of those leaves fall and end up somewhere. I’m telling ya, all of the ones in a tristate area ended up in our yard. Kidding- sort of…
I have a “black thumb”. I literally killed an air plant because I watered it too much. I just don’t have that ability, time, or desire to work in the yard, so I let things get pretty gnarly out there. Around 5 pm, after working ALL day, my sweet friend got my attention and took me over to a corner where she had worked really hard to get the leaves out of the way. She said if you leave them, you end up with bugs in your home, mold, and foundation issues. Whoops. I had no idea. I have watched people rake leaves out of their yards every fall and really thought they were nuts to spend all that time moving leaves! Evidently, they knew stuff that I did not. The ground becomes starved of the water and sunlight that it needs to grow anything when a bunch of dead leaves get in the way. The same is true with us. “Weeds and dead leaves” in our souls choke life out of us too.
“Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road,” (Matthew 13:18-19 MSG).
The soil couldn’t receive any seed because it remained on the surface. Junk in our lives that we don’t want to uproot and spend time removing does the same thing as those dead leaves. God is always speaking and directing us. But do we hear Him? Do we repent and actually change in response to what He says? Or are we being stolen from because the truth isn’t making it to the soil?
Here are some dead leaves that have tripped me up in the past:
- The Bible is boring. I don’t get anything out of it. I don’t have time to read it.
- I don’t have time to spend listening to God. Plus, I’m not going to like what He has to say anyway.
- I don’t want to forgive the person who hurt me. I like the power of holding something against them.
- I don’t want to let go of this offense. I am justified in my feelings.
- Lies. Here are a few examples: I’m misunderstood, no one really sees me, no one likes me.
What is the common theme for all of that junk?
If you mix selfishness with laziness and stubbornness, you end up with a soul full of dead leaves and ugly weeds. Pulling weeds takes serious work. You have to put on gloves that make your hands hot and sweaty, and water the soil so that the ground is soft and pliable. You also have to find just the right spot on the weed so that when you pull, you don’t leave any remnants of the root or the whole thing will come right back up. Then, you have to dispose of them. Not a fun day for me.
Here I am trying to tackle the beast. I had to call in backup.
“One day I passed by the field of a lazy man and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker. I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls. So I considered their lack of wisdom, and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this: Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming your permanent business partner. And: If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today, tomorrow never seems to come,” (Proverbs 24:30-34 TPT).
A friend asked me recently what my heart for ministry was and what mark I wanted to leave on the world. I told her it was two things: I want people to walk in freedom and in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Those two things are why I am still married and still in ministry. Without them, I would be lost.
The Holy Spirit leads me to truth, speaks to me, fills me, and encourages me. He puts His finger on areas of my life that need work and surrender. He exposes the weeds and dead leaves in my soul. Freedom is the process of cleaning it all out and that is my responsibility. I used to think freedom was a one time event. Now I know that it is a continual process. I am responsible to pull up lies, old habits, forgive, get accountability, repent, and change my behavior. And the Holy Spirit is with me every step of the way.
Enjoy this pre-makeup picture of me and the conquered beast! 😉
When I don’t give my yard the attention it needs, it gets ugly and people notice. Don’t let your soul be that way. If you’re going to spend time and energy anywhere, this is the place to do it! It is worth the time and investment. Move the dead leaves, uproot the weeds, and walk free.