“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” (Matthew 13:24-30) 

I am not a farmer.  Many of the harvesting themed parables in the Bible take a little researching before I fully understand them.  The parable in Matthew 13 has always made sense to me on a basic level, but recently it took on a whole new meaning for me after I spent all afternoon working in the “garden” next to my house.  This 20 by 2 plot of dirt was over run with straggling flowers planted by previous owners, rampant wild mint and prehistoric sized fern weeds.  It looked like a mini jungle ready to take over my house.  My plan was to pull out everything.  That’s right.  I intended to rip out every last bit of green and start over with new soil and better plants.  The first 10 feet was hard work, but I tore through it.  Armed with a shovel and pruning shears I ripped into that bed and cleared it out. 

When I started on the second half I noticed that below the layers of leaves, just along the ground were scores of lilies of the valley.  These small two leaved flowers bloom with tiny white bells that smell better than anything I can describe.  They are my favorite flower.  My wild pruning took on a new attitude.  I couldn’t just rip out everything, I might hurt the lilies!  I began to tenderly dig up plants in order to protect the lilies.  I carefully pulled out the roots intact and placed them to the side.  It was slow going!  It was very difficult to pull out the weeds and not hurt the flowers.  My gardening techniques took a whole new turn once I cared about the plants I was trying to protect.  It suddenly dawned on me that God loves us so much more than I love those flowers.  The careful gentleness with which I was treating them is nothing compared to His care and compassion for us.  If my concern for those flowers was enough to cause me to labor in the hot sun longer then I needed to in order to protect them, how much more is God willing to go through for the well being of His children? 

As the ultimate gardener, God cares for His creation.  He wants what is best for us.  We can trust that the pruning and pulling He does in our lives is for our benefit and the benefit of those around us.  The good gardener wants what is best for his plants, even if that means leaving the weeds to grow and strangle for a time.  Our loving God goes even farther.  When the total destruction of His garden was eminent, the good gardener gave His life to protect His plants.  That is crazy love!  I would never go half that far, even for the most beautiful flower…and we are not beautiful flowers!  Despite our sinful, wicked hearts, He completed the greatest act of love and sacrifice imaginable.  He died in our place.  He took the price of our sins and gave us eternal life at His expense.  We can trust Him, He has proven His love for us beyond anything we deserve. 

Dear Lord, Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for valuing me beyond what I am worth and sacrificing yourself for me.  Please help me to trust the work you are doing in the garden of my life and enable me to grow strong through your Word and Sacraments.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Published August 2007