Last Sunday at church the young man presenting communion spoke about sin using weeding as a metaphor. it was a simple but very strong message. It also reminded me of something I wrote when I was that young man’s age, so I dug out one of my old prayer journals and read the story again. The similarity was uncanny – which encourages me to believe that the Lord had spoken to both of us. So here is my piece, written over twenty years ago.
My life was a garden and daily I walked with the Spirit of the Lord. Together we tended to all the plants of the garden; I at His direction. We walked together and came upon a tree that was very old and grew wild. It came from the time before the Spirit had come to work here with me.
He said to me, “This tree bears no fruit.”
“Well yes,” I replied uncomfortably. “But I’m used to it. I like the way it looks.”
“It is ugly,” the Spirit said.
“Yes, but it grows on you.”
“Indeed, for it grows throughout the garden and chokes off many of the fruitful trees.”
I didn’t like to think about it, but when I looked I could see the truth of the Spirit’s words. I didn’t like to look for too long. Staring at my feet, I asked, “Is it really so bad?”
“You know that it is,” was His reply.
“Yes. What should I do?”
“Lay an axe to its base and cut it down. Then tear up the stump with all its roots. Fill in the hole with fresh and good soil and water the ground with the Lord’s blood. Then the Father will come and plant a fruitful tree; or else, He will let the grass grow so that you may walk with Him freely here and not become entangled in the ruins of a tree like this.”
“Cut it down?” I cried. “Tear up the roots? Isn’t there something else I could do?”
“No,” the Spirit said.
“But surely, if I just prune it back and keep a careful watch on its growth…” I did not want to give up this tree I was so used to, even though the more I looked at it, the more I could see that it was like a cancer. It choked fruitful trees with its branches and sucked up nutrients that should feed other plants in the garden.
“If you prune it, it will only grow back stronger,” the Spirit said. “And if you keep constant watch on it, you will not have time to tend the rest of the garden.”
I knew the Spirit was right in what He said, but I hated the thought of taking out something that had been in the garden of my life for so long. As I stood staring at this horrid tree that I was so slow to hate, the Spirit put the axe in my hand, but still I hesitated. Then the Spirit spoke the words to which there could be no denial.
“This is the Father’s garden.”
And it was true. I drew back the axe and swung. As I swung the Spirit leant His strength in with mine and with one blow the tree was felled. When it fell, I felt some regret, but also relief. I saw that fresh light shone in on me and for the first time I realised how much of the Light the tree had blocked out. Now that it was gone, I wanted to make sure it never came back, so I began the long work of tearing out the roots. The process took many days. Sometimes I would think I had it all, only to later discover another bit buried in the soil that I didn’t know was there.
I took the soil that the Spirit gave me and filled in the hole and watered the ground with living water and the blood of the Lamb. And in the evening, I walked with the Father where the grass had grown green and fresh.
Image 1: Free for personal use, no attribution required.
Image 2: By published by Ward, Lock, & Tyler of London [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.