Maintenance & Seasons – Dandelions and Doing the Dirty Work

Don’t you love to th-92steal a moment back from childhood and blow on a dandelion gone to seed? Do you dare to watch with delight as its Whoville-like fuzzy-topped grains dip and then lift off into the breeze to soar high in the sky? I confess I do, and it’s magical to watch!

The problem is, of course, those fuzzy little seeds do land somewhere. And this year, it seems a platoon has landed to claim the beach-head that is my back garden, in the beds and between the stones on the pathway. Though I do enjoy the health benefits of dandelion leaves in my salad, these, unfortunately, must go.

With tools in hand, I begin and quickly notice that dandelions are not the only weed that I find in my garden. Others join ranks, peaking from where they once lurked below the surface, all cozied up to the daisy, or lily, or feverfew, or phlox, or lemon-balm. Stems tightly wrapped and intertwined so their leaves look like they belong.

Then Jesus told them another story. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field. That night, when everyone was asleep, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. Then the enemy went away. Later, the wheat grew and heads of grain grew on the wheat plants. But at the same time the weeds also grew. Then the man’s servants came to him and said, ‘You planted good seed in your field. Where did the weeds come from?’  The man answered, ‘An enemy planted weeds.’ The servants asked, ‘Do you want us to pull up the weeds?’  The man answered, ‘No, because when you pull up the weeds, you might also pull up the wheat. Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest time. At harvest time I will tell the workers this: First gather the weeds and tie them together to be burned. Then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.’”
(Matthew 13: 38-43, International Children’s Bible)

I’ve found out something interesting about darnel. Though they are definitely weeds, they very closely resemble and grow with the wheat so that the two are just about indistinguishable from the other. Just about. The Gardener however knows the difference. And, sigh, I imagine He knows the same of the tares that grow alongside the wheat within me too.

SadfaceHe is keenly aware of the difference between what has disguised itself as a seed of wheat, and has grown into an overgrown platoon within me; what has glittered and deceived, sounded too good to be true, and is.  I may think myself hidden in the thicket from the Gardener, or perhaps honestly even hope it, so confused and scarred I am, regretful and contrite, but I soon discover there is no place too thorny, too deep lost or far gone, or that I can go or end up in that He is not already there, no place that I am beyond His sight. That truly both blows my mind with anxious wonder, and drives me to my knees in quiet humbleness!

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

(Psalm 139: 1-12, The Message)

I wonder sometimes if it is Him Who turns my head as I speak through my own wonder: Wait, what? Why is this happening? Why, and how, am I here in this place – again? Why am I allowing my hands to do the enemy’s double-whammy work? What happened to partnering with Abba to th-102preserve, to grow more beauty rather than this ugliness inside and out?

Where do I go from here? Can I go from here?

Breathe. Breathe Me in. Calm, child. Look, and see that small flame that watches for danger and flickers when it is near. Listen to that small voice that whispers vigilance, cautions to the slippery slope ahead. Pause, look and listen before being used by the enemy, before responding to his baiting and tickling and deceiving of your senses to do his dirty work. Don’t be afraid, child.  Lean into Me, and cast all the thorns of worry and coth-95nfusion upon me.  I can take care of them. I will take care of them. I love you, child, and My love for you never changes, no matter where you are – thorny thicket or golden field. Take you hand off the callouses of hurt and anguish and fear from which the tares grow, and let Me in. I want, and can, and will tend and heal. Breathe, and let my Spirit envelop your soul, renew your mind, recenter your heart, re-energize your spirit.  Bend this way so I may uproot the tares, and watch as I put them in the fire. Now, bend this way so I may prepare the soil for the planting new wheat. Abundant harvest is coming. Peace. Breathe in My Peace, My very Presence. Live outwardly from this place, this timeless calm that remains eternal within and around you, and is always accessible to you. 

Abba, occupy and overtake the entirety of all the beds and fields in the garden of our souls! Will you guide and re-landscape so they are resplendent in beauty and shout of your glory? Will you help us, so that your quiet strength and tender wisdom develops the wheat, yet simultaneously starves the tares of nourishment to grow? Will you fill our every moment with your gentle voice that lays all things bare to your healing, and keeps us supple and intent on partnering with you? Will you bring and keep us in that place of calm reliance and firmness in you, in the centre of your will? Will you use any good you plant in each of us to bring benefit to even more? Oh Jesus! Make your will to come to pass in us all!

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
(1 Kings 19: 12, New International Version)

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
(Psalm 23: 2, New International Version)

Erin
Soil and Seed

Maintenance – The Water of Encouragement

My heart is safe with Jesus,
of this I can be sure.
He knows my deepest sorrows,
His love for me is the purest pure.

He knows my deepest joys and hurts;
my wounds he gently holds.
My past, my present, my future,
all in His devoted care enfolds.

My steps and path are fragrant;
a sacrifice as myrrh.
He walks and talks with me, cries and laughs with me.
In Him, with Him, and by Him I am secure.

He is my light and safety,
on Him alone can I rely.
Whatever harms or afflicts us,
these things He hates, derides.

These gardens of our hearts and souls, our spirits –
our landscape – its fellowship He most fervently loves.
He jealously protects and keeps us;
His goal: our complete (no less!) restoration – for us the bestest of the best thereof!

His is no absent Gardener!
Just look around and see!
Oh! How our Savior loves us!
His magnificent Creation outspread and cheers in all glorious glee!

Oh friend, in Him we find our refuge!
His voice let us harken, let us receive:
for if we are to truly, really flourish
not the world’s, but His ways must we enweave.

Our hearts are safe with Jesus –
of this we can be most confidently sure!
He is our only Saviour,
for in Him most fully, most surely, is our strength, our energy and stability to endure!

Exuberance!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7: 7-8)

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1, The Message)

Erin
Soil and Seed

Maintenance – Following the Current

2319796141_6b9f1eaec2_zAhhhhh! Sitting on the deck, soft breeze gently blowing, sun shining and warm, birds peeping, flowers illumined with splashes of light. Coffee steaming, reading glasses clean, fresh journal and new pen. Now this is the life!

Sabbath.

Sabbath: a word often sadly brushed aside in today’s world. But if you observe today’s world, surely the very thing we frequently avoid might be amongst that which we need the very most?

And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
(Genesis 2: 2-3, New Revised Standard Version)

A recent Sabbath morn I spent studying Genesis 1 – 2:3 with my son Greg. As usual, much like every young person I’ve ever come across, he fired up my imagination. I just had to share. It was his analogy as to why it’s important to carve out time for Sabbath, why there was deep significance in God’s command to keep it holy that had me fascinated. And not just to keep a day especially reserved on the weekend, but seizing moments during each day of the week to touch base and steal time to spend in the company of the Gardener. It was the significance of the very terms used, their definition and specific functions that struck me.

Greg is studying to be an Electrician, and for illustration for his point, he used the concept of electrical voltage in a power supply. (I suspect our Gardener happens to also be The Master Electrician!)

First, he explained, the goal of every electrician is to channel the wildly fluctuating Alternating Current (AC) in his power supply into a smooth Dependable Current (DC) using specific tools to achieve the task.

Image-2“If we look at a typical Alternating Current at any given cycle,” he explained, “you observe great positive charges at their peaks that dramatically proceed to dive to significant negatively charged depths. This is a lot like each of us, either during the course of the day, or a string of days that make up one or several weeks. We Alternate with great highs with God, then somehow we respond to triggers that bring us way down into the negative area of distraction away from Him and his Dependability, often falling into some kind of sin.”

“So how does an Electrician fix that current? Well,” he proceeded to explain, “he uses a Rectifier. This object serves as a tool to reduce the dramatic swings of the current. There are still dips, but they don’t slip below into the negatively charged area. As a Christian, a Rectifier that could help us from falling so far below into the negative in our walk could be a tool like regular morning, or evening, or daily periodic touch-bases with Jesus, or a combination of all three. It could be studying a passage from the Bible and journaling thoughts, or memorizing a particular verse of Scripture for recall later.”

Image (4)“But remember, the ultimate goal of the electrician is to achieve a smooth and uninterrupted current in his power supply. We’re almost there. Next,” he continued, “we would apply a Capacitor to the circuit. This calms the current, smoothing out the dips into less theatrical rippling. For us, this kind of calming measure could be something like snatches of prayer before or after a meeting, at lunch or other time of day, breathing Jesus’ Name while we’re driving, recalling a favorite Scripture verse when we’re stressed, maybe even allowing ourselves to be blown away by something in Creation.”

“The last step in bringing the Alternating Current in line to become a Dependable Current Image (2)-2is to apply a Regulator. This takes the rippling current and ‘straightens it out’ if you will. It applies the last calming measure to make the current flow more efficiently and the device that is being powered to run effortlessly and well. For me, my Regulator is Jesus; focusing my attention, my “current” on Him – Who He is, Who He is to me, how He knows me better and more deeply than anyone, is right there as my calming force, and how I have absolutely nothing to fear when I hand my life over to Him. He is my Source, my Regulator for living well and productively.”

th-47“God tells us to take a Sabbath day of rest, and we need to listen. But you know,” Greg continued, “if you look at the Gospels, Jesus was often also taking mini-Sabbaths. He would rise early before any in the household got up and go and have a One-on-One with His Father (Mark 1:35). He’d take off in the dark of night (Luke 6:12). Jesus connected regularly and depended on God throughout the day, and so should we! And Jesus’ days were full! He was a popular guy – a guy people wanted to be around! He was constantly surrounded by crowds vying for his attention, grabbing at his robe, begging for His mercy and healing, and hanging onto His every word. ‘He was made man,’ so He must have gotten tired and worn out, physically and emotionally. Teaching, healing, feeding thousands, washing feet, dealing with evil spirits, calling the dead to come out – all done with such profound and authentic Love that came from His very depths! He must have needed refilling! I wonder if he wasn’t in need of a recharge after He fed the 5,000? (Matthew 14:23) And just look what happened after He did! He walked on water! (Matthew 14:25)

I think we need to have a day of Sabbath, just contentedly sitting with God, reviewing together the week that has past and the one to come and giving Him thanks and praise for moving us through the past several days and into the next. But I also think we need the mini-Sabbaths modeled by Jesus – in the quiet of the early morning before the noise starts, stealing time away during the busyness of the day for a quick “Hey, Jesus?”, and at night to review the day together with Him. We are all “highly charged”, and it’s important that our “voltage” follows a good straight path to be truly productive, to use our talents and skills to their best potential. It’s hard, but we really need to keep from depleting and wasting away our “charge”, instead taking regular intervals to be strengthened and dependable to handle the wild ups and downs with a calm head and passionate heart.”

Wow! Thanks Greg! AMEN!

IMG_0214

And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place,
and there he prayed.

(Mark 1:35, Revised Standard Version)

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone.

(Matthew 14: 23, New Revised Standard Version)



Erin – and Greg!
Soil and Seed