I had tried EVERYTHING . . . or so I thought.
When we moved into our current home 12 years ago, I put a little pizzazz into the yard. I added trees and plants, which offered color, shade, beauty, and dimension. For years, I worked in my yard, tending my plants and making sure to keep the grass healthy. However, after back surgery, yard care dropped way down my priority list. I kept doing the basics, and for a while, things went along just fine.
As I write, we’re in the middle of winter, which means all the trees have lost their leaves and much of the color we enjoy throughout the year is gone. While raking leaves not long ago, I noticed that some of the shrubs looked like they had the chicken pox! Spots covered their leaves; their limbs looked thin and sickly. I responded with what I thought was needed: I made sure the shrubs had lots of water and sprayed the leaves with a topical treatment.
A few weeks later, half the shrubs were dead. This was not acceptable! I consulted Dr. Google and read up on plant problems. Guess what? All my best efforts weren’t healing the problem; they were feeding it, allowing it to multiply.
When there’s a problem inside us, it’s often revealed through our skin. The chicken pox virus is IN the body, but it shows up ON the body as a red, itchy, painful rash. Likewise, if a plant’s root system and soil are carrying a disease, it often shows up on the leaves. As with humans who have the chicken pox, the plant’s “skin” looks painful and itchy, but the disease is in the “body.” My shrubs were infected with a soil-born disease; the leaves simply revealed there was a problem. The topical treatments I had applied didn’t help, because they weren’t touching the roots.
Get this, three specific things are required for a disease to take over a plant:
- A soil-born bacteria, virus, or fungus
- A host
- A compromised environment
By watering diseased soil, I was feeding the disease! The only remedy was to pull out all the dead, diseased leaves and treat the soil I had neglected for months. I’m now in the middle of this process, unsure if my plants can recover but trying just the same.
Doesn’t this ring true of the human soul? Matthew 13 offers several parables about seeds, soil, and the soul. Jesus spoke of seeds scattered in various places, seeds surrounded by weeds, and how our faith is similar to a mustard seed. His disciples later asked Him to explain how His word pictures related to their lives. He replied:
The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels. (Matthew 13:37–39)
You and I live in a weed-filled, sinful world. Those who know Christ have to fight against “pathogens”: the lures of our sin-saturated world. All through the year, we must consistently and purposefully feed and tend to our souls if we want to remain strong and healthy when “winter” arrives in the form of trials. Trials, like winter with plants, don’t make or break us; they simply reveal the condition of our souls. We may appear healthy during other seasons, but when winter hits, all things are stripped away, revealing our truest nature . . . the health of our spirits.
When our “leaves” turn up spotty, itchy, and painful or our “limbs” shrivel and sag, most of us blame the season, those who influence us, or our environment without ever digging deep into our own hearts. We treat our setbacks topically rather than internally. But here’s the catch: no other person or outside factor is responsible for your soul and the decisions you make. That’s all YOU. Your choices reflect where you are rooted and what is in the root system.
Friend, my challenge to you is one I am faced with each day as well. Ask yourself:
- Am I feeding my soul spiritually enriching nutrients like God’s truth and the counsel of wise people?
- Am I consistently resisting environments that lead to compromise?
- Is my soul healthy? If not, am I treating external factors instead of the roots of my soul?
- In the days ahead, what are one or two changes I need to make to feed my soul and provide me with strength to press through the trials I’m facing?
The truth is, we’re ALL fighting weeds and resisting disease . . . but we weren’t created to do it alone. Please connect with me today so we can encourage each other as we tend our gardens together!
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