Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? (Matt. 13:27).
Last week my wife asked me to mow the weeds in our front yard. That’s right. The weeds, not the grass.
Right now our grass hardly needs mowing. The brownish tint of winter doesn’t show signs of going away any time soon. If things will ever warm up around here (which as of this writing seems questionable) that will change. Before long the green will emerge and the grass will grow.
Strangely enough, winter seems to have had little impact on the weeds. While the grass is dormant and colorless, the weeds are undaunted, boasting a stubborn and healthy green that manages to migrate in splotches throughout the yard. The man who came to ‘treat’ our weeds suggested that at a certain time we mow them. As he put it, the weeds needed to be ‘agitated.’ On the day my wife asked me to mow the weeds I’m pretty sure the agitation was all mine.
I’m well aware that weeds and gardening and pruning are often used as word pictures for things spiritual. It is striking that soil and soul are so much alike. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the tares. I might paraphrase, “grass and weeds.”
In Jesus’ story an enemy sowed weeds among a healthy crop of wheat. The first response of those who tended the field was to get busy and rip out the weeds. But the Farmer and owner of the field stopped them. In Jesus’ story the wheat and the weeds grow up together. God sorts it all out at harvest time.
I return to a tried and true word picture to speak about our doubts. The weeds in my yard provide some basic convictions that will give shape to what follows in the days ahead.
First of all, there is more yard than weed. Of course, if ignored or neglected this can change. The weeds can grow to the point of taking over. Our doubts can do that as well. That’s why it’s a good thing to pay attention to doubts, to give voice to questions. The spotty presence of weeds here and there doesn’t mean the entire yard needs to be plowed up. The doubts that emerge from time to time don’t mean your faith is a sham.
Second, the weeds can be persistent. When it comes to weeds – and doubts – diligence is required. What was eradicated in one place may later crop up somewhere else. Questions may be settled only to emerge later in a different form. In the life of faith we need to be always ready to think and ever prayerful.
Finally, there is a difference between nurturing a doubt and ‘agitating’ it. The sight of someone mowing weeds looks like a superficial treatment at best. But we were told to ‘agitate’ the weeds in order to impact them on a deeper level, to get at the roots. Likewise, we ‘agitate’ our doubts when we try to get to the root of what they are and where they come from.
Don’t be alarmed at doubt. Be patient and prayerful. Get to the root of the questions. Tomorrow we’ll agitate our doubts by looking at unanswered prayer.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for your great patience with us. You allow room for our doubts even when we seem eager to eradicate them in pursuit of a perfect and pristine faith. Be our teacher as we look closely at our doubts. Take us to the roots of our questions and make us patient as we seek to grow in the likeness of your son, in whose name we pray. Amen.