Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rose Bed Theology

My husband has been the church groundskeeper for the past several years decade.

What started out as just mowing the lawns and keeping the weeds at bay in the parking lot (on a volunteer basis) has since morphed into the title of [co]Deacon of Facilities (still a voluntary thing).

The couple that was originally commissioned to landscape the flowerbeds at church got out of the landscaping business years ago, and now the church has some very unruly flowerbeds on account of the fact that said couple never laid weed barrier down in these beds in their effort to ensure job security.

This year, the rose garden has been particularly afflicted by morning glories.

This season started out as uncharacteristically wet - April and May just rained and rained and rained.  And being that there were three children and two jobs to attend to, the rare sunny day we'd get was usually a day full of scheduling for activities other than weeding.  It has still rained/hailed more than normal here, but this summer has since gotten into a dreadfully-hot-followed-by-afternoon-thunderstorm pattern that is typical of Colorado.

The rose bed got to me a couple of weeks ago, though, and I said, "We have got to go rip out those weeds, the roses look pitiful!"

So we did.  After 4 hours in the heat (not raining [in the mornings] now!)of squatting and crouching, getting scratched to hell, tending to 4 mischievous kids (we were babysitting, too) I was D-O-N-E.  And boy howdy did my hamstrings howl for the next several days!

It was hard work and hardly entertaining, yet somehow I managed to hear the whisperings God directed toward my heart about the inherent lessons of the rose garden.

First of all, it didn't take long at all for these horrible, life-choking weeds to grow to the extensive mess they'd become.  Sin is like that.

Ok,so maybe God didn't whisper that one to me as much as he gave those words to Seth for him to teach our older boy with and I just overheard.  

And these plants weren't new either - they were mature, well established roses, but every bit as susceptible to the weeds as any Christian is to sin.

Second, the roses couldn't undo the entanglement on their own, nor did they cry out for help, necessarily.  No, they were dependent on the astute observation and careful intervention of others.  

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 

At one point, Mr. Fix-It observed, "You must be a lot more patient than I am."  This, being a statement filled with irony, garnered a quizzical 'say wha???' look from me.  He then explained that he was just ripping the vines at the bottom of the plant and pulling, whereas I was carefully finding the base of the vine and unwrapping each rose stem individually.  He concluded, "Yours look way better than the ones I've done."

That much was true, but before he went on thinking too highly of me, I told him the truth: "Actually, it's more out of self-preservation than it is patience."  It was my turn to elaborate.  "You see, when I was all fast and furious about it, I would get all scratched up, plus, it tore the roses up too.  When I take my time and am gentle about it, sure it takes longer, but both the roses and I benefit."

No sooner did the words leave my mouth than I felt God's Spirit, nodding beside me.  ....restore...gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Tempted to do what?  Rush the job, haphazardly 'fixing' the situation, leaving yourself and the stuck person, albeit no longer stuck, bleeding and bruised on the way?  Judge the person and fight to wrestle the sin at hand out of that beautiful rose of a person, only for both of you to come out battered and missing pieces?

No matter how good intentioned one may be, if they haven't love or gentleness when dealing with a brother or sister stumbling into or stuck plumb in sinful habits, there will be casualties.  Proceed with caution and lean on the Lord's understanding, not your own.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this. BOY, isn't that the Truth. :) Love it when God opens our eyes to His teaching WHILE we're in the middle of it. :)