Here’s today’s hypothesis: there are two ways to rapidly and richly deepen your understanding of the Bible:
1. Go to seminary
2. Work in your garden.
Many of the most wonderful things I have learned about the Bible I learned in the
classroom yard. The professor of my bible college (seminary, in US speak) taught classes on the gospels and frequently told us: “you MUST become familiar with the idiom of your King.”
He was right: Jesus’ teachings are RICH with agricultural illustrations and applications, and in the past few years while my hands were deep in muck, I’ve found my mind deep in thought . One might even say that “God walks with me in the cool of the garden” (really, it’s more in the heat, and really my garden is not Eden… but the Teacher sure gardens beside me.)
I thought weeds were a biblical illustration of “garden annoyances”, until I actually had a garden and had to deal with them. Weeds are not minor annoyances. They are pernicious, pervasive, persistent things. Given a little time, a little light and just the smallest amount of space – they spring up. They do not require the attention and nurture which my fruitful plants do to thrive, they grow all on their own. They choke the good things I am trying to cultivate.
Some have deep roots, some have wide-spread shallow ones. Either way, they require specific, singular attention to be removed. The sooner, the better. And most frustrating of all – the same weeds keep appearing in my garden. They require regular attention. Weeding is not a once-off process: those darn things sprout up everywhere! Again and again!
I had thought that gardening would involve hours of lovingly nurturing beautiful green things to look at and enjoy, but I’m surprised at how much time in garden is spent rooting out the unwanted things just to give the beautiful things a chance to take root.
No wonder Jesus warned us that sin was like weeds.
Sins are not minor annoyances: they are pernicious, pervasive, persistent things. Given just a little time and a little space, bad habits and selfish thoughts spring up. They don’t require the attention and nurture which is takes to cultivate character and good habits – the bad habits grow all on their own. Funny how I spend so much time teaching my children to do the right thing, but the bad things they learn all on their own.
Some of my sins have deep roots (self-centeredness, jealousy), some have wide-spread shallow ones (covetousness) – but either way, they require regular attention and confession. The sooner, the better. And most frustrating of all – the same sins keep appearing in my heart. Again and again. Reading my journals of twenty years ago, ten years ago reveals some growth but it also reveals a pattern: the same weeds keep appearing in my soul. But the good news? They’re thinning out over time. I know what the seedlings look like and I can deal with them faster. They’re there, but I’m getting better at rooting them out, to give the beautiful things a fighting chance at taking root.
Let’s keep working the
soil soul, friends.
Hebrews 12:1 So let us get rid of the sin which so easily entangles…