A few years back we moved into a new home. It had a decent sized yard so the first thing my husband wanted to do was start a garden. Unfortunately, the whole yard was grass. There was no previously cut spot of exposed dirt for a garden. We had to start from scratch.
This involved cutting up the sod and tilling up the dirt. Many sweaty and exhausting hours later, we finally had a rectangle of space for our garden! We planned out the rows, decided on what we wanted to plant, and put the seeds in the ground. Within a week or two, the sprouts started to appear.
But, they weren’t the only ones. The grass wanted to take it’s space back. For a time, we let the grass go, mingling in with the newly sprouted seedlings. But the grass was more aggressive than the beans and peas and we couldn’t let it go any longer.
We took to weeding, pulling out the grass and weeds at their roots. Unfortunately, because the weeds had become so prevalent, it was hard to pull the bad plants out without disturbing the good ones. The weeds would have caused a lot less havoc if we had gotten to them sooner.
a lesson in the garden
Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to experience the goodness of God without first having to go through the pain of acknowledging our sinful state.
Admitting we are sinful and selfish and of no worth in ourselves is painful. The roots of those thoughts and patterns run deep within us. Like weeds that have grown knee-high, the tendrils have wrapped themselves around the soil of our hearts and it takes more than a two-finger tug to free them. When you rip those weeds out, you end up disturbing the dirt around it. Imagine your heart like that garden dirt and having the weeds of sin and self, with their well-established roots, being ripped from your soul. There is going to be pain. There are going to be tears.
He does it because He loves us
In order to get to the mountaintop of joy, that deep worship experience with your Father, there has to first be pain. This isn’t because God is hateful and vindictive and wants to see us suffer. It’s because He knows, if left to our own self, we will create more havoc and pain than if we would turn to Him and allow Him to work in us. It’s better to fall on the mercy and discipline of a God who knows all, than be subject to the revenge and punishment of a fallen world that is temporal.
If you are relying on your feelings about God to be your basis for why you follow Him, then you are planting your garden before even tilling up the ground. You don’t have to be a green thumb to know that if you plant seeds in a garden that has not been weeded or the ground worked, then those seeds have little chance of getting past the hard earth and overgrown weeds
Be willing to go through hard things
To experience God in His fullness, to know His heart of love and mercy, you need to be willing to let Him do the painful process of tearing out the roots of sin and working the ground of our hearts so that the seeds of Truth can have fertile soil to grow. We can take comfort in knowing that if we bring a humble heart to God, asking Him to root out the sin in our lives, that we will be forgiven and healed. King David knew the experience of admitting sin and falling on the mercy of God. He had committed murder, adultery, and lies – to name a few. And he sings of God’s goodness and speaks of it throughout the Psalms.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34:18 ESV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
(Psalm 147:3 ESV)
Those who do not think they need healing will not seek a physician. But those who know of their injured and sinful state, desire a Healer.
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31–32 ESV)
The reason we seek after Him matters
We need to be careful that we are not seeking something to just treat the pain, but instead something to heal the sickness. Are we going to God to feel better, to have an experience to play to our feelings? Something that can make us happy in this often-despairing world? If that is what we are after, just like a medication, it will only last until the effects wear off. But, if we seek something to cure our sickness of sin, then we are searching for a good thing. Because Jesus, who dies once for all, has made a way for our sin to be forgiven, for the sickness to be healed, and a path to our Father made clear.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
So, the question is this: what are you going after? A God who makes you happy or a God who makes you whole?