Weeding one morning, I savored the victory as I plucked tiny sprouts and tossed them in a pile. Satisfied with my work, I stood to scan the shrubbery. I spotted a cocky monster towering the center of one of our rose bushes. It had grown unnoticed for months to reach such size, but its day had come.
I approached cautiously since our lovely plant also boasted an army of thorns. I went in, glove free, flinching with each jab from my traitor roses, barely managing to tear a single limb from the weed, unable to reach its meaty base.
Determined to beat them both, I continued pursuit, but that demon was hunkered down good. Choosing pain over defeat, I dug in, eventually forcing the beast into submission.
As I nursed my bloody arm and gathered the remains of my victim, God, the Master Gardener, revealed a truth to me: Bad habits of wrong thinking are spiritual weeds.
In infancy, these mental weeds are easy to pluck up, instantly gratifying, even refreshing.
Yet, when left to burrow deep in our hearts, extraction requires spiritual surgery. And surgery ain’t for sissies, honey. Healing up, neither. Still, freedom is worth the effort and pain.
False beliefs lie camouflaged deep within our psyches: jealousy, resentment, judgmental spirits, bitterness, unforgiveness toward others, and ourselves.
The world excuses these things, blames them on our genes. Red headed Aunt So-and-So had that same fiery temper, Uncle What’s-his-name was an alcoholic too. But don’t be fooled. Justifications are branches on the tree of bondage.
Bad habits are morbidly comfortable. Mere pruning isn’t enough. Parts may rip off at first, but for true healing, the root has to go. We may feel we’ve lost a limb, and we have, but God can be trusted. He knows what we don’t need. He is with us in the transition. He will send love, and loved ones, to encourage us.
Ironically, we often fight the Lord as He yanks at our false beliefs and habits. Like my conspirator rose bush, we lash out, unknowingly protecting the very thing that is strangling us. But God can handle it. He has taken scars for us before.
When the scales finally do fall from our eyes, we choose to endure the pain of ripping. Toxic relationships have to go, boundaries must be marked, and new mental habits birthed. Battlefields are bloody.
But we are never alone. The Lord is our front and rear guard. If He is for us, who can be against us? He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
And know this: God doesn’t waste pain. He will use it all for good, when we surrender it all to Him. And we will reach our fullest potential when the snares of false friendships are untangled and we release ourselves from the lies we’ve believed.
Then, God will reveal His plans for us, plans to help us and not to harm us, visions He sowed in our hearts at birth. Hindrances wither and dreams blossom to their intended splendor. We walk in victory as magnificent roses. And our Master Gardener gets all the glory.