Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plucking Vices, Planting Virtues

Aside from being a bit warm, yesterday was the perfect day.
We got a lot of long-overdue weeding done along the back of the house, where a healthy stand of Canada Thistle had risen up against a small clump of vulnerable Irises, stealing their sun and stunting their growth.
With oven-mitt-thick leather gloves and sweat dripping off the end of my nose, I meticulously plucked out the thick-stemmed thistles by the roots one by one, smoothing the loose dirt behind me.
Then Joy came in behind and planted some Hostas in the exposed bare spots, which she had transplanted from another bed. We’ve learned by now that if we leave the empty spots empty, the thorns will come back thicker than before.
Have you ever noticed how nature rushes in to fill a vacuum with all that is unsightly in the world?
A naked spot in the yard will never fill itself in with a soft nap of Kentucky Rye. Instead, the cursed earth pushes up all kinds of despicable plant life—crab grass, crawling vines and Canadian Thistle—to quickly fill the void.
Emptiness gets plenty of help from nature to fill it. But the result is anything but favorable. In order to surround ourselves with Kentucky Rye, Lilacs, Roses and Rhododendrons, we have to manually override what would naturally grow there. It requires sweat and toil to pluck briars and plant beauty in empty places that would otherwise be overgrown with unwanted things.
Such is the human heart. In the New Testament, we see commands like these: 
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” - Ephesians 4:20-24

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledgeafter the image of its creator.” - Colossians 3:9-10

'Hosta' photo (c) 2007, Morgaine - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Paul knew that plucking vices is not enough. We have to come in behind and replace them with a virtue of a pure variety—a Hosta, Hyacinth, or Kentucky Rye—lest thistles rush back in to fill the void once again.
Sanctification is as much about the beauty we plant as the briars we pluck. This is much easier said than done. It’s twice the toil of weeding a garden. But the rewards far exceed that of a full and finished flower bed.
I'm always seeing life lessons in everyday chores. What are some you have discovered in recent days?

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