Dealing with the weeds

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With the coming of summer, we love to see grass, crops and plants grow. But along with these, weeds come, as we all know – and they grow too well!

So we need to be vigilant, spraying and hoeing, or weeding in the vegetable plot and garden. Weeds are relentless. Allow them to grow and there will be no harvest.

Some argue that a weed is just ‘a plant in the wrong place’ and now with our greater awareness of environmental issues we rightly try to allow space for plants like wild flowers to grow. However there are still such things as ‘weeds’, which cause havoc by spreading and shedding seeds everywhere. Some cause health concerns, or even the death for livestock. Weeds are real and harmful.

But why are there weeds? Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the Bible has much to say on the subject. In the Book of Genesis we are introduced to a perfect world. At its centre is a garden, the Garden of Eden, filled with every form of tree and plant. Then human beings enter the story. As the first couple tended and enjoyed the garden, nothing marred Eden’s beauty. So much to eat. Not even a mention of a weed! So why couldn’t it stay that way? Well, again, we get the answer in the Bible. The humans rebelled and disobeyed the Maker of all this perfection.

Their rebellion had consequences. Banished out of the garden by their Maker-God, Adam and Eve were told, ‘“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return”’ (Gen 3:17-9).

Perfection gone...and in its place comes hard labour, weeds and struggle all of our days until we - in death - return to the very soil we work! Weeds are a curse, literally!

Dealing with weeds is a challenge for every farmer. There is no point in pulling off their heads, or cutting them above the soil, for they will grow again. In our lives too, despite our desire to appear ‘neat and well-kept’, sins like anger just burst up out of nowhere, words come out that shame us, thoughts enter our minds and we wonder, ‘where did that come from?’ Left unchecked our lives become like a field overgrown with weeds!

The roots of evil things are like weeds, running deep beneath the surface in our hearts. We need the radical change of God’s grace, who promises us a new start when we truly turn to Him. When we do, He gives us strength for tackling the sins that continue to ‘pop up’ as we go on.

The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.’ Maybe it is time to deal with the ‘weeds’ in our lives as well as in our fields!

Ian was brought up on a dairy farm near Limavady. He was a minister in Ballyroney and Drumlee congregations in south Down, and latterly Moneydig Presbyterian in County Londonderry. Due to a serious cancer diagnosis, Ian has had to retire from active ministry and now provides counselling and support to others with cancer.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the subjects raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna at khanna@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.