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Spring Training

It is almost spring again and time to begin to turn the beds so we can plant some veggies and flowers. 
Have you ever observed just how easily weeds grow in those beds and how terribly much work tending a garden seems to require all the time? It just does not seem fair at how easily the weeds sprout up all over the place, while coaxing one rose bush to bloom requires dead-heading, careful watering, and regular fertilizing. A typical lawn may require hundreds of dollars a year just in "weed-preventer" chemicals! The soil has to be turned, nourished, and readied before I can plant one single seed. What is up with all these weeds?

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, "He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out." This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. (2 Corinthians 9:8-11)

The weeds in our gardens and yards never seem like a blessing, do they? In fact, they almost make us want to curse them a little - as though saying, "I curse you, you ugly weeds", is going to make them die any sooner! I have learned some very interesting lessons from my weeds, though. There are weeds which are very green - pluck them up and the lawn or garden seems to have "bald" patches that just moments before appeared all nice and green. Some are deceiving us with their pretty flowers - lulling us into admiring them, while all the while, they are preparing to let loose of hundreds of "weed-seeds" in a moment of time! Then we have the weeds which don't really seem to be evident - but step on one of their spiny "burs" and you will soon be painfully aware of their presence. Lest you think I am only referring to the weeds in my outside garden and lawn, I am not. There are these similar kinds of weeds in my "inner garden" of the heart which are ready to take over if not addressed!

Our passage reflects on the blessings of God - not simple blessings, but what God refers to as extravagant blessings. When Paul presents this idea of God pouring out blessings in astonishing ways, he is referring to the "giving" in order to have something to "give away" - not just to "get" or "get more". Some may think it odd of me to get a "blessing" out of weeding my garden, but in some respects, it is very rewarding. The lawn beds look a little barren for a while when those green, leafy weeds are no longer firmly rooted in the soil. It is this "barren" and "prepared" soil that actually gives room to the seeds I want to plant to grow as they are intended to, spreading out, taking root, and providing a rich and refreshing cover of new green and color. 

The burs in my heart are a different matter all together. I have to get "pricked" a few times before I actually get to the root of those menacing tentacles of pain I have allowed to take root in my heart! The cocklebur weed is a tenacious thing - spreading out in all kinds of directions, weaving itself carefully into the blades of grass around it, until it has a firm root. Before long it puts out all these spiny little burs. As time passes, these burs harden and become a menace to anyone or anything that gets one attached to their sock, pant hem, or the tufts of an animals fur. They become a source of irritation and try as you might, they just seem to attach more firmly whenever you make a move to rid yourself of it!

You know me - I find a lesson in almost everything. What do those burs have to teach me? They take root fast and "spread out", getting into areas they shouldn't even be in. Sin is like that - it spreads into all kinds of areas of my life if not weeded-out quickly! Although unnoticed at first, the burs make their presence quite evident in the end! Sin cannot be hidden long - the "burs" of sin will prick at us repeatedly. The more we "worry" on the burs, the more they seem to get entwined in our emotions. Our faithful God is quick to point out the sin when it is not yet deeply rooted - weeding it out early prevents it from being a "bur" to be reckoned with later on - a lesson that has taken me a lot longer to learn than I really want to admit.

What about the weeds which lull us into admiring them with their beautiful show of brightly colored flowers? As a kid, I would walk the desert and find the wildflowers. I never realized they were mostly weeds because they "displayed" themselves as pretty flowers! Sin is deceptive this way - putting up a good show at first, but secretly ready to release hundreds of "seeds" that will be our undoing in the end. The seeds produce fresh doubt, fear, worry, shame, guilt, and the list goes on and on. Lulled by their seeming appearance of being "okay", we miss the "outgrowth" of these 'sin' seeds! Weeding them out, instead of admiring their "appearance" of being "okay", prevents seeds that will produce countless other issues in our lives if allowed to 'germinate'. God "gives" in order for us to have something to "give out". Even the lesson of the weeds is a blessing which was given in order to be given out. If it speaks to you - awesome! Just a little 'spring training' lesson for ya!

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