We were out in the yard enjoying a beautiful afternoon and I noticed the first evidence of spring inbound. These are daffodils and they surround the base of our Texas Pistache tree in the backyard.
It actually caught me a little off-guard. I was not expecting my yard to begin blooming so soon. (Am I revealing my extreme lack of gardening experience here?). This is a fairly new home to us, so I'm still learning the annual cycle of our plants and garden. More importantly, I was not expecting to have to begin the weekly Saturday ritual of maintaining the yard so soon!
If indeed spring is ready to bloom, then we have a lot of work to do. Work that looks something like this...
Often God gives us visible signs through nature to help our understanding. I'm sure many of us have heard analogies from a garden as it relates to our hearts...and my yard is a perfect picture of the purpose of the Lenten season.
Lent is about pulling the weeds to give room for new life, new growth. It's no accident that Lent covers the weeks of the year where the cold and barrenness of winter gives way to a season of new growth and life springing forth. If I do not get out in my yard and begin pulling those weeds and preparing the soil, then the weeds will choke out the new growth of spring and any new seeds planted will not have the rich soil needed to grow into something beautiful and fruitful.
If we don't do the work in our hearts of pulling the weeds (the unaddressed sin, poor attitudes, selfish habits) then they will choke out the life-giving actions in us and holy seeds that have been planted in our hearts will not grow to bear fruit as they were intended.
But if we keep up on the yard work and take time each week to pull the few weeds that have popped up and pull any dead plants, then the work is much more manageable. A little regular yard maintenance makes for a fruitful, beautiful yard full of life and growth....and a yard neglected makes for an overwhelming job that can send us right back inside.
Regular introspection, confession and prayer prevents a heart overtaken by sin and a situation that is easier to ignore than to face.
One of the ways we can know that our hearts are not bound by the vines of sin is when we see evidence of fruit growing in our lives.
Galatians 5:22-23 "In contrast the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control..."
So are we growing in the fruits of the Spirit? Are we becoming more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, gentle and self mastered? If so, then these are signs of life in us.
If not, then it's probably a signal that we have some weeds to address.
Don't be afraid to look at your garden. Lent is the time. The time to pull the weeds so that resurrection life can do its work in us.