Garden-variety God-thoughts: overkill

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My two best times for thinking are in the shower, and when I’m gardening. Some say their very best thinking happens while they run, but this is a hypothesis I am never going to test. So I shower, and I garden, and while I garden, I think. My soil time is soul time, good for reflecting on how things grow, and on dealing with sins as weeds.

Last week, however, I realized that sometimes I can take weeding a little too far.

Two months ago I planted an entire bed of sweet onions. One by one, I had laid them in neat little rows. I was so thrilled when they sprouted strong green tops. Surely this was a sign of deep growth happening beneath the soil.

Inevitably, the weeds grew too. Little creeper weeds began to grow and cover the area between each onion, creating an intricate lattice work of not-onions. There were a lot of them, and I began to panic about how my baby onions would fare.

In a rush one afternoon, I judged that my trusty scuffle hoe with its 3″ wide edge could safely and easily maneuver between the 4″ spaced rows. So scuffle, scuffle, scuffle I went.

Hoe hoe hoe. Weeds gone.

And within two days, most of my onions gone too. Not so Ho Ho Ho.

They were too young, too tender, too vulnerable for my vigor. They needed hand-weeding. They needed just a bit more time.

The onions made me think of one student in particular I mentored some years ago. She had a young, fledgling faith and it was exciting to see her grow. But there were things in her life which, if left for too long, would cause her damage: bad habits, bad relationships, less-than-wise choices.

However, instead of helping her deal with those gently, pulling sinful “weeds” out one by one, I went in with a spiritual scuffle hoe: full of advice on how to overhaul her life from top to bottom. Immediately.

Weeds gone. For a short while.

But within two months, she was gone too.

Let’s not deal with people with a scuffle hoe.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” – Galatians 6:1


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12 thoughts on “Garden-variety God-thoughts: overkill”

  1. It’s that gently and humbly part that I need to remember. Hard work sometimes but so worth it, much like your hand weeding the garden. Great analogy, Bronwyn.

  2. Great observation. Just heard a sermon this past Sunday about how Jesus, as our great High Priest, “… is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray …” (Hebrews 5:2). What a blessing that our High Priest deals gently with us. May we do likewise to others.

    1. I think one of my favorite lines from any hymn is this: “father-like he tends and spares us, well our feeble frame he knows. In his hands he gently bears us…” So true.

  3. Bronwyn, i love this post. I love gardening, so it hits home as a good reminder. Thank you for your eloquent words of wisdom 🙂 I miss you.

  4. I’m not much of a gardener, but I still appreciate your good message. When God pulls weeds out of the soil of my heart he does it so very gently. May we open our hearts to his masterful touch and treat others as gently as he treats us. Thanks! Judy

    1. As you can tell from my confessions, Judy, I’m not much of a gardener either. I’m literally more of a hack 🙂 I am very thankful that God is the Master Gardener, infinitely more patient, gentle and skilled than I!

  5. Bronywn, I did the same thing to a new believer years ago: “I went in with a spiritual scuffle hoe: full of advice on how to overhaul her life from top to bottom. Immediately.” And the results were sadly similar. I’ve learned so much since then, particularly about grace. Thanks for this post. Hopefully some others who have not spiritually hoed someone to death will learn from our mistakes, and not do it!

  6. makes me think about how I sometimes take a giant hoe to my OWN weeds … the grace and gentleness I want to have for others I also want to have for me 🙂

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