The Gardening Saga Continues.
“Is this a weed?” I asked when I showed a cutting to the garden guru at a big box store. He laughed and said, “Well, all perennials are basically just weeds that people like.” I laughed too, thinking that was probably pretty close to the truth. However, I reconsidered as words from my mom came to my mind later, “Weeds have red stems.”
My grandparents and parents ran a greenhouse for many years, and we kids were ‘the help’. Although they all worked hard, side by side, especially from around March through the garden planting season. I remember my grandmother seated beside me at the transplanting bench, both of us on wooden boxes, hers with a little padding on top. She used a 3-inch stick, whittled with a handle and a pointed bulb at the end. My grandfather had probably made it. Worn smooth by years of use; anyone who grabbed her transplanting stick got in trouble. We took the seedlings in bunches from the flat and carefully separated them; using the stick to make holes we transplanted them into a new flat. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was weed and what was plant. “Weeds have red stems.”
So the two big plants that seemed to be placed in my garden on purpose had red stems, smelled bad, and for all the space they took up—the tiny tiny white flowers didn’t seem to be worth it. I decided they were weeds and out they came.
I wish it were as easy to recognize and remove the “weeds” in our lives that sometimes appear as impressive ideas or influential, powerful people. Reminiscing again about my grandmother always takes me back to stories about her childhood. Her father moved the family from Germany when she was a young girl. A family member already in the United States sponsored them and promised to help them. They worked for him for some time until they learned the language and customs enough to realize he used them as slaves. They were feeding a weed.
Weeds always take more than they give. Some weeds don’t just take, they also do harm. We read and hear their poisonous but influential ideas all the time. We observe their acts and wonder how they can continue using and abusing others. Jesus was not afraid to ‘pull up the weeds’. He called out the Jewish leaders and promised that they faced destruction if they did not change.
Back to my big box garden guru…there is a difference between weeds and plants but it is often hard to tell. Weeds are deceptive; they look promising but there is no beneficial fruit. Weeds will take over the garden in a very short time and farmers have a fight on their hands if they let the weeds get ahead of them. Weed seeds seem to jump out of the ground and one would wish the desired crop could thrive so well. Jesus had a caution about handling weeds though. Sometimes we can rip out our crop if we are not careful.
God loves all people but we must not have a laissez-faire attitude about the weed people. We dare not ignore the sinfulness and ungodliness that can enslave and steal not just our joy, our very lives. Love them? Yes! People are not weeds and they can change. God is more powerful than their wicked ways and false philosophies. With God’s help, challenge them with the truth in love, rebut beliefs and teachings that lead to death, share and show a better way. Let’s carry on the transplanting tradition, plant new life for a harvest of fruitfulness and joy.