Weeds and Thorns
You have not obeyed my voice . . . So now I say . . . they shall become thorns in your sides . . . Judges 2:2-3
Over the years, my family has made several attempts at gardening, with little success. Though we start out in the spring with good intentions, as June turns to July, our passion for gardening fades, and we allow the weeds to start growing. They are few and small at first, but as August arrives, we realize we have lost the garden to them. Sigh . . . We will do better next year. It takes the long winter then, to begin again.
In today’s passage, God used this metaphor to chastise the Israelites. When they entered the promised land, God commanded the Israelites to drive out everyone else and to destroy their idols. They obeyed – mostly – but they left small remnants, which grew, becoming as thorns in their sides.
Most of us can identify with this. We tolerate little things because it’s no big deal. We indulge just a little, tolerating pride, greed, lust, resentment, bitterness, destructive relationships, gluttony, drink or drugs. Almost imperceptibly, they grow. We do not notice how much a weed grows in a day, but as May turns to August we finally understand. Only as it consumes our lives, do we perceive the mess we have allowed and how miserable it will be to deal with it.
Then, it takes a long winter of recovery and repentance to begin again. As the weeds grow, so do the consequences and repercussions.
Repentance can be painful process, but it is the only way. If we want to live free from the thorns, we must address them daily. Just as it takes persistent effort to keep the garden clean, it takes daily denial of self to follow Christ. We must continually ask ourselves, What does God want me to work on today? What weed do I need to address so I may follow Christ? In doing so, we will come to know blessed fruit and life instead of thorns and misery.