Question: What is a weed? Answer: Whatever you don’t want to grow.
Which brings up the next question: Why is it that whatever you don’t want to grow, manages to thrive without cultivation, defying every brand of weed killer short of chemical weapons?
From the time I was a boy, I’ve collected Golden Guide nature books, specifically the ones with covers dating from the 50’s and 60’s. One of them is creatively entitled, “Weeds.” The whole book explores the world of quackgrass, wild barley, pigweed, stinging nettles, sow thistles, dandelions, cockleburs, and many others that turn a lawn or pasture into a lost cause. Each page has a national chart illustrating their range. Most weeds manage to flourish everywhere, including the places other life forms avoid.
No one encourages their growth. Nobody wakes up and celebrates when a lawn is full of poison oak. Instead, we hire guys in jumpsuits who drive trucks full of toxic fluid to come spray our yards.
Still, they grow.
But try coaxing a prize rose to bloom, and you’ll have to pay attention to the soil, fertilizer, light, moisture, and temperature—everything except burping it and rocking it to sleep.
Recall the parable of Matthew 13. The seed (the word of God) lands on one type of ground (the human heart) and can’t get started because the ground is too hard. Another lands on soil that is too rocky. Another grows for a short stint, but the weeds grow faster and choke it down.
At the end of the parable there’s finally a crop worth having, but you’ll only get it by breaking up hard ground, clearing it, and weeding it. No human heart is good ground from birth. It needs the work of the Holy Spirit. It also needs the help of workers. God arranged things that way. That’s why Paul said in 1 Cor 3, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
Yes, God grants the supernatural results, but He involves others in the process.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).
Laborers aren’t optional. They’re critical. You have to pray for them, because of their human propensity for self-interest. You see, workers are always reluctant to go. They tell themselves things are good enough as is. Please, they say, no more costs, no more travel, no relocations. They reason a lot: Jesus said to “Go,” but can’t “going” mean sending literature? Offering online interaction?
Plus, the work is hard. If I wanted to help a human heart grow in its love for television, money, and other hobbies, I wouldn’t need to do a thing. Weeds prosper just fine on their own.
But helping another person grow in Christ? That involves getting up early, praying, visiting someone when your favorite show is coming on. Answering the phone when you’d rather have some down time. Searching the Bible for answers because someone asked you a question you couldn’t answer. Sometimes it means getting on a plane and going somewhere outside your comfort zone, and outside your time zone, too.
I tasted a little of this again when I boarded a plane a week-and-a-half ago and went to the other side of the world. I didn’t go for safari. This simple southern man has already had his fill of world travel and adventure. Neither did I go to get some validation for my ministry. At my age, I’d like to think I’m happy with what the Lord has measured to me, and accepting of what He hasn’t.
So it must have been something else—those prayers for laborers, maybe. A request went up, and this dog-eared worker was heaven’s response. The humor of it wasn’t lost on the folks I visited. A lady laughed and told me, “We thought you would be taller.”
But it’s hard to stand up like a professor when you’re plowing and weeding like a farmer.
Never be afraid to feel some heat, a cold shower, some lost sleep. Get some soil under your nails, because God may yet cause to grow that rarest and most prized plant of all—the Christos vine.