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Nasty Roots

Updated: May 4, 2023

They seem innocuous enough. Attractive leaves, thin tender vines with graceful tendrils. But they were growing in the wrong place - namely, my yard. And by my definition, anything growing in the wrong place is a weed. And weeds don't necessarily have to be plants.

So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ (Matt 13:26-28) Jesus would explain that the devil was the one who sowed the weeds, sons of the evil one, among the sons of the kingdom for spite.

So what do you do with weeds? You pull them up and toss them in the fire or in the yard waste. But you have to get rid of them or they will grow back. They are crazy things. If you just leave them on the ground they seem to take root where you toss them and start growing again. If you break them off at the stem, they just grow a new top. My particular weeds (as above) seem to cluster with another vine that has some lovely thorns all along its stems. When I start to tug on these (and I have to pull carefully and not too forcefully or quickly), a vast underground network is revealed. Not only are there vertical above-ground runners reaching up my brick walls and trees and fences, but there are horizontal underground runners that allow the weed to send up new shoots all across that area of my yard.

So I keep pulling and working my way along the underground runners, trying not to use too much choice language as I tear the flesh of my fingers (even through gloves) and wrists on the thorns. And then I come to a place where the runner takes a nosedive down. The taproot. I grab my trowel and carefully loosen the soil around it. And when I finally get those boogers up, the taproots are the size of roots that should go along with small trees. Mine look like this.

By the time I've cleared a 3' by 5' area, I'm a sweaty, dirty, bloody mess. I won't know if I have been victorious until time passes and the weeds either return or don't, doggone them.

Now, I'm no gardener. My thumb isn't green, and my yard will never win any awards, so what do I know about these things anyway? Not much, admittedly, but I at least know of the struggle that anyone who has wrestled with eradicating weeds has known. It's a battle. And a regular one at that. You stop fighting them and they take over.

I'm no gardener, but I am a pastor, so I see life rather sacramentally. What we behold and experience outwardly and visibly often reveals inward spiritual realities. If you prefer, we can simply say that life is full of metaphor. This is a picture of that. And weeds with their roots are no exception. The Bible speaks of them. Jesus made use of them in his teaching. Most often, they are metaphors for sin and those who are under the full influence of sin.

For instance, you can read, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Or, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled....” (Hebrews 12:15) Or even in Deuteronomy: “Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart....'” Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger, jealousy, greed, idolatry – insidious weeds with gigantic nasty taproots. And you gotta keep fighting them with prayer and truth and the power of the Holy Spirit within you.

If you don't, they'll take over.


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