Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Strawberries and Weeds and Stupidity

I’m told that spring is here; not really sure about that since we’re running the heat tonight, but it may be so – the flowers and trees seem to think so, though it seems they’re a bit tentative in blossoming and that they’re asking, “Who’ll take the risk?” There’s a freeze warning tonight; we’ve brought plants inside and covered others outside…yet they say it’s spring…hopefully they’re right.

We’re behind in our vegetable gardening. Finally most of the beds are prepared and we have potatoes and lettuce and radishes and even some tomatoes in the ground – we’ll see how the tomatoes do tonight. A couple of weeks ago I was preparing the raised beds, weeding and turning the soil; after finishing bed preparation I spayed the ground between the beds with weed killer – we’re going to put landscape fabric down this year but first we wanted to kill as many weeds between the beds as possible.

Last year, in the section of the garden without raised beds we planted climbing squash and cucumbers and corn and okra. In another open area we planted strawberries. It was a sad summer for our new strawberry plants – they were overtaken by weeds that we couldn’t keep up with and what fruit they did produce was eaten by critters.

As I prepared the spray mixture to kill the weeds I asked Vickie about the area where the strawberries had been, “Should I spay that area?”

“You might as well,” she replied, “I don’t think any of the strawberry plants made it.”

As I approached the strawberry area I continued to spray, assuming the strawberries had all died…but then I looked through the weeds and saw a strawberry plant, I looked again and saw another plant, and another and still yet another. Not only had the strawberry plants survived but they were growing and healthy. I put my spray tank down and got a bucket of water and poured it on the plants I had sprayed, and then another bucket, and yet another, washing the vegetation killer off the strawberry plants. I should have looked first and only then should I have sprayed, my preconceptions clouded my understanding of reality.

In Matthew Chapter 13 Jesus talks about the wheat and the tares and warns us against pulling up the tares before the harvest lest we unwittingly damage the wheat. In 1 Corinthians 4:5 Paul writes, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

Sometimes I’m just plain stupid, really stupid. Sometimes I pull up tares and hurt wheat – I just can’t leave things in God’s hands. At other times I sit as a judge over things that I should not be judging (there are assuredly things we should be judging!)…how often I make the mistake of judging people, evaluating people like a fool, thinking that the weeds have so overwhelmed them that they will never make it, never bear fruit – pretty stupid I am. After all, all I need do is look at my own life and see periods when the weeds had so overgrown and smothered me that it’s a wonder I have any sense of Jesus Christ, any sense of eternity, any sense of holiness. I’m the best example I know of weeds overgrowing a life – and yet by God’s grace He didn’t spray me with vegetation killer…He was merciful, He removed the overgrowth without destroying me. I am so good at looking at outward appearances, at thinking that all there are are weeds – dumb, stupid and dumb.

I almost killed our strawberry plants. I wonder how many relationships I’ve damaged over the years. I wonder how many opportunities for mercy and compassion I’ve squandered. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

This Was for You

Friday night Vickie and I want to Anna’s for dinner – she had a Greek salad and I had an eggplant pasta dish. Both were great, both overflowed their plate. I could have easily eaten one-half and taken the other half home – I was aware of this when I first saw the plate, I was aware of this as I was eating, I was keenly aware of this as I approached the halfway point on the plate.

As I approached the halfway point I was getting full, in fact I was getting quite full. But, I reasoned that it tasted so good and I had eaten so wisely during the week…and then there was Vickie. She was lagging behind in eating her salad and what was I to do? It wouldn’t be right for me to stop eating and watch her. Oh, I guess I could have stopped eating and talked a bit more – but would she have wanted to hear a monologue on history or theology? No, I could not do that to her. So I ate.

When I arrived at the three-quarter point of my dinner plate I thought about saving that last section, of taking it home, of having it for lunch on Saturday. But then, I was getting close to finishing it, and was there really enough for lunch? It seemed a small thing to just go ahead and finish it – after all, it was so good, so tasty…and I had eaten wisely during the week.

On the way home I complained of being full. After we arrived home I complained of being full. I also questioned my wife’s love for me, surely if she loved me she would not have let me eat the whole thing – why hadn’t she intervened?

The next morning (Saturday) I lamented that I had eaten so much. (Do you get the picture?)

This morning (Sunday), as we left the church parking lot Vickie said to me, “That message was for you.”

I looked at her, “Really, oh that’s great.”

“Yes,” she said, “I was thinking about you during the sermon.”

“Well, I was thinking about me too and about Friday night. But still, you really think the sermon was for me?”

She replied, “Well, you’ve been talking about it.”

The sermon was on a subject I’ve not ever heard preached after almost five decades of following Jesus. It was masterful, well done, and thought provoking. I’ll be thinking about the facets of the message for some time to come. For sure the next time I’m at Anna’s and order a dinner that is large enough for two meals I’ll think of this message.

The message is part of a series focused on the Seven Deadly Sins; today’s sermon title was Gluttony. It’s great having a wife who will just get it out in the open by saying, “The sermon was for you.”

Well, she said it in love, she said it somewhat amusingly…and in fact she said what I was thinking. Just another reason why Adam needs Eve.