September 23, 2009

The Original Invasive Species

Years ago a hidden corner in the back of our house had become a gathering spot for outdoor toys, unused hoses and other junk we were too lazy to put in the garage. It was one of those areas we just kept overlooking. Then, a landscaping project around our newly-built deck exposed this corner for what it was—and what it could be.

A handful of perennials, a few grasses, a scattering of annuals and a small pond turned this eyesore into a small oasis. Today it’s one of my favorite areas of the yard. And the sound of trickling water from the fountain lulls us throughout the warm weather.

I've learned about perennials "on-the-job." Some plants have been good choices, others not so much—especially the one that mentioned “invasive” in the fine print of the planting tag. I wasn’t even sure what the term meant. Our little garden had lots of bare patches, so I figured maybe a nice invasive plant would be perfect to fill up the space. Plus I rationalized that if the garden center offered the plant, it must be OK.

Well, five years later I am fully aware of what “invasive” means! Unfortunately, by the time I decided I didn’t like the plant, it was too late. I’d yank it out here and it would crop up over there. For years I’ve tried to eradicate it and each year it reemerges in more places than before. From one little plant, “plantlets” appear throughout the entire garden entrenching their roots in the hardest-to-reach locations—between rocks, under stepping stones, along the house foundation and even hiding among “good” plants. They're even making headway in the grass! As I've since learned, if left unchecked, root-spreading plants like this one can kill out less vigorous species and take over most of the bed.

This week I reached my invasive-plant limit! Forget about plucking the errant flora. With shovel in hand I dug it up. For hours I sorted through piles of soil, extracting the tenacious and intricate network of roots that extended far beneath the surface. I set aside any obstacles and dug, dug, dug. Still I’m certain I didn’t get every deeply embedded root and fear next spring those dreaded leaflets will reappear, taunting me all the more!

You know, sin is like this.

We may get into something that seems controllable, innocent or fun. “It’s no big deal.” “I can handle it.” “They wouldn’t offer it if it could hurt me.” The world may even give it a stamp of approval. Consider:
  • The innocent flirtation

  • The little lie

  • The fudged numbers

  • The “I deserve it” purchase

  • The careless gossip

  • The puff, the drink, the snort

  • The rationalization

Once we enter into sin, its invasive roots extend into our souls and entangle themselves in areas we never imagined. The enemy knows our weakness and where to trip us up—and he never lets us see the end result of our actions. Yet even when we decide to pluck this sin from our lives, it eludes our efforts and crops up elsewhere, sprouting new life. The hard truth is we CANNOT fully control sin or our sinful nature.

The apostle Paul grieves about such a struggle, “I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong…With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” (Romans 7:18-99, 22-24 CEV)

Thankfully there is someone.

“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2The Message)

Jesus is the ultimate sin-killer. By entering into the tangled mess of struggling humanity, He overcame sin once and for all. Tending to our planting of faith may require hard work on our part, but when we abide in Christ we can be confident the victory (garden) is ours.

This spring, before the invasive plant sprouted.

As for my current gardening dilemma, I guess I’ll just keep digging up those unwanted invaders. I’ll also read labels a little more closely next time around. It's not like I wasn't warned. . .


Kelly Combs said...

"It's not like I wasn't warned." wow. Isn't that the truth in life? We are warned...yet we ignore the fine print.

Great words today!

Julie Gillies said...

Hi Kelli,

Wow, your new oasis is just beautiful! But it's STILL a battle, isn't it, just like our lives! A battle to keep out the unwanted weeds.

I LOVE how you ended this post...we ARE warned, of course! Excellent post. Loved the pics, too! :)

Terri Tiffany said...

Great analogy:) I love your pictures too!
Did you get my email telling you to send anything over you want to for me to look at? Hope so!

Scott said...

It would be so easy to justify the sins if we could blame it all on the enemy. Unfortunately, we are usually the ones planting those seeds. He just comes along spreading the fertilizer.

Cheryl Barker said...

I've felt that struggle Paul describes many times. So glad Jesus has won the victory for us.

By the way, hope that crazy weed will leave you alone now! :)

Laura said...

You made something beautiful out of that ugly, didn't you! What a great analogy. And, even in the beautiful the ugly can creep back in.

I'm chewing on this one, Kelly.

Analisa said...

Girl you made the penecostal in me come out. You betta preach!!!! That was so true about sin. It lurks at the door wanting entrance and we must be keep our eyes on God to keep it out.
This post really blessed me!

Sue J. said...

I remember moving into our first house and acquiring the mint that the owners had in their back garden. Yowzah! What an invasive nightmare!! Had no problem digging up the lava rocks that were placed on top of it to try and squelch it. Won't do that again!

Another of the pastors at our church saw me weeding my church garden bed. I was digging out dandelions and such. He made some comment about just burying the whole mess under a thick layer of mulch. He said something like it can "cover over a multitude" of weeds.

I just stared for a minute, and was ready to tango with him over his choice of words. Surely you need to get to the roots to deal with the problem, I thought. He is an avid gardener himself, so I left it to funny word choice.

But what you say here is true, through and through. Thanks for another lovely garden analogy; I never tire of them.

(BTW, I have a Russian Sage/Perovskia plant that is doing the same thing in my front garden bed. Pretty purple, but it "sproings" up everywhere!)

Saleslady371 said...

I enjoyed your garden and your teaching!

Runner Mom said...

That spot is lovely! And, as in life, we have to keep on weeding out the yuck to keep our lives lovely and safe. This was a great analogy, sweet friend!! You are an amazing writer!

Love ya,

Gail W. said...

Hi Kelli! I recently returned to Blogland and am having a wonderful time catching up on blogs I followed in the past. This post touched my heart deeply. The analogy is spot on! The uprooting of sin is usually traumatic; thanks for reminding me I can trust the Gardener to know what He's doing. Have a blessed week!