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What happened to all the leaves?

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives.  Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.  Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don’t let their talks capture you) You see, all that is God, all His fullness, resides in His body.  You, too, are being completed in Him, the One who has dominion over all rule, all authority. (Colossians 2:6-10 VOICE)

Is our heart a welcoming place for Jesus?  We might answer a positive "yes" to that one, but let's just stop to consider what it is we welcome into our heart without really paying much attention until we see the damage it has!  I have tried to make my garden a welcoming spot for birds, bees, and earthworms. I want all those things in my garden.  The flies, mosquitoes, or green crawly things chewing on my plants - not so much!  A couple of weeks back I was just standing at the kitchen sink glancing out at the garden when I noticed my bell pepper plant was nothing more than a bunch of spindly stems!  It hadn't been that way a mere 24 hours prior - so what happened?  I spent a great deal of time trying to locate the "cause" of this devastation, but it almost escaped me. Although I could see evidence of something which produced waste the size of rabbit pellets, I just couldn't see the "thing" which was causing all the damage. I was just about to give up when I lifted the last remaining leaf only to see a humongous green caterpillar of some sort with a spiky long sticker on the hind end of it!  Needless to say, it met what I am assured was an unwanted end! As I gaze out at my pepper plan this morning, all is well!  Leaves have regrown and there are signs of buds on it.  In much the same way, we might not really know what has felt our heart a welcome place to take up residence until we see the damage it has done, or notice the "byproduct" of it in our lives.

We think we have welcomed Jesus, giving him all the room to spread out, taking up full residence, but in the course of a short period of time, we might not even notice those things which crowd him out.  What began well may not fair so well when there are things entering in which act as "predators" in our heart.  These are the things which affect our focus and devotion. The things we might not even notice, but if we look closely we will see evidence of their presence by the byproduct they produce.  These things don't stick out to us like a sore thumb, but are often concealed cleverly - almost disguised so as to blend in - much in the same way that caterpillar was.  It was exactly the same color as the plant and it blended in without my notice long enough to begin to destroy all signs of growth from that plant.  Things which occupy space in our hearts often don't reveal themselves right away - they just stay concealed until their ugliness begins to be revealed in ways we didn't really take notice of as long as there were signs of "good growth" covering over them.

This is a lesson for us - to learn that some growth can cover over some things which may actually work against that growth in the long run.  We ARE growing, but are we taking notice of the things in our lives that are out to work against that growth? In my garden it is these pesky insects and creepy crawlers - not to mention rocky soil.  This is why all my gardens are pretty much "above ground" - created from soil I brought in for the purpose of growing pretty flowers. Underneath all that really rich soil is some pretty alkaline, hard, and rocky Arizona soil.  It is almost impermeable without a good pick ax and a whole lot of strength.  I know it is there and have had to "work around" it.  This may work for a flower garden, but this doesn't work in the soil of our hearts very well. Whatever is there which acts as a barrier to root growth needs to be uncovered and removed.  There just isn't room for it in our hearts - that space isn't going to allow anything good to be produced until it is cleaned out!   Just sayin!

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