Disturbing the Soil

Occasionally there are those rare years when I can get an early start in my garden, and I can stay on top of things all season.  Those years are few and far between. I typically will find myself stepping around numerous flats of annuals, herbs and vegetables that I have bought several weeks prior and placed at my back steps.  I’ll water them almost every day, wondering all the while when I will ever get them planted.

But the planting can’t begin until the beds are prepared.  I’ve got weeds to pull… again.  When I say again, I don’t mean that I pulled weeds late last season and now some of them are back.  I mean I weeded my front yard’s beds about three weeks ago, but you’d never know it from the looks of it at this moment.  I had weeded the beds, but I didn’t finish the job.

jonquil-5The moment I finished weeding those front beds a few weeks ago, I promised myself that the very next day I would buy the pre-emerge and the mulch I needed, and put them on those beds.   Those two items never got checked off my ever-growing to do list.  Now, I get to do it all over again… all the weeding, I mean.  Weeds wait for no one.

Something that will wait, however, is a weed seed. If buried deeply enough below the surface of the soil, a weed seed can just stay put and do nothing.  But the moment the soil is disturbed, and that weed seed is brought near the surface, things begin to happen.  The beds in my front yard are a testament to that fact.  I plunged my trowel into the soil, dug up all the weeds by their roots and cleaned those beds thoroughly.  They may have been cleaned, but I had disturbed the soil.  I had set things in motion.

Gardens are never static; never totally inactive. Regardless of how much, or how little time you spend in your garden, something is going on with it. We may not always be able to see what is happening, but there’s always something taking place. And if you want to increase the amount of activity, just do a little something to disturb the soil.

Perhaps it’s not even weed-pulling that brings it about.  Maybe your garden’s beds are nice and clean and weed-free — all ready for planting.  Then you bring home those petunias or impatiens from your favorite garden center and you dig your holes and you plant your flowers.  You’ve disturbed the soil.  You’ve set the stage for action.

It’s so annoying to do everything right, and still have to deal with weeds!  In a perfect world, if the beds had been cleaned of grass and weeds, and pre-emerge had been applied, and the beds had been mulched, then the annuals or other perennials planted, there would be no weeds appearing a few weeks later.  In a perfect world, there would be no weeds at all… but that’s another story.  Regardless, we can do everything just as we should, plant our flowers, and still have weeds pop up.  We have disturbed the soil.

Isn’t that just how it is in life?  We try to do everything just as we should, and those annoying weeds of life pop up.  “What exactly are the weeds of life?” you may ask.

A weed, as defined by the exam study guide for the “Professional Landscaper and Nurseryman Certification” of the Arkansas Green Industry is… “any plant growing in a location where its qualities or characteristics are deemed undesirable.”  In short, a rose growing in the middle of a cotton field is considered a weed.  It’s something that’s undesirable there.

Weeds in our lives are often, but not always, sin or the result of sin.  But it’s not always our own sin that manifests itself as an ugly weed in our life garden.  Sometimes it’s sin in someone else’s life – the consequences of someone else’s sin.  Their weed seed simply gets blown into our garden by the wind.  Because let’s face it, a sin affects many more people than the one who actually commits it.

Now, back to disturbing the soil.  Some time ago I was led by God to do something bigger than I had ever done before.  This was something that was considerably outside of my comfort zone.  I did what God asked me to do, and He blessed me for it beyond measure.  I could see the people’s lives being touched.  I felt as if I had truly planted something beautiful for God.  And then the weeds began to pop up.  I had disturbed the soil.

Even when planting something just as God directs us, more than likely there will be weeds to deal with.  God always wants us to “sow the seeds” for Him.  You gardeners know the difference between “sowing seeds” and “planting a plant.”  Sowing seed is simply scattering seed across the surface of the soil, just as it is described in The Parable of the Sower in the book of Matthew.  The soil is not disturbed when seed is sown.  But when planting a plant, a hole must be dug to bury the root system of the plant.  The soil will be disturbed.

Satan is never happy about our “seed sowing” and he certainly doesn’t like it when we disturb the soil.  Soil that is disturbed translates into a new work that’s being done.  Satan prefers that we simply wander through our life garden doing nothing; or better yet, that we sit inside and only peer out the window, with no interaction at all in The Master’s garden.  But when we do get out and get our hands dirty for God, we shouldn’t be surprised when the weeds begin to show themselves.

Within a matter of days after my following God’s leading to do this work for Him, I was under attack.  Problems seemed to arise from every direction, affecting numerous areas of my life… relationships, job, finances, you name it.  Then I remembered something my grandmother used to tell me.  “As long as Satan is coming after you, you know you’re headed in the right direction.”

It had been quite some time since I had experienced an attack like this one.  That, in itself, started me thinking.  How long had it been since Satan had been so concerned about what I was doing?  How long had it been since I’d been any kind of threat to him?  How long since I had “disturbed the soil” for God?  Too long… far too long.  This realization seemed to fuel my sense of determination.  My shame was soon followed by a resolve – a resolve to keep planting and to expect the weeds.

God tells that He will make us expert weed-pullers; He will make us more than conquerors.  But in telling us this, He is telling us that there will be things to conquer; expect the weeds.  He will empower us to find all those weeds, and to yank them out by their roots.  Only with His power and His guidance will we be able to find them all and get them all out… and prepare the garden for the next planting.  And believe me, He has something for each of us to plant.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

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