Not to be gross, but after having received a haircut, a man should then proceed to have his neck shaved, his eyebrows trimmed, his ears and even his nostrils checked and cleaned for wayward hair, etc… It is arguable that only then is he to be considered well groomed.
And it works much the same way for a person's yard. First, one cuts the grass with the riding mower. Then one trims closely around and trees, decorations, etc… with the push mower. After this comes the “weed-eater” for an even closer trim. Then, the driveway needs to be edged, as well as any roadside curb, etc…
After this comes the blower, to clean up any clippings. Lastly, “Round-up” or some other weed killer is to be applied to make certain even the tiniest vestige of shagginess has been eliminated. Only then has one finished the yard properly. Only then is that yard to be considered well groomed. Now, I admit that I am a bit fastidious in all of this. But, then again, I do get complimented on my yard on a fairly regular basis.
Recently, while working through my weekly yard routine, I came across a little plant that had sprung up in the wrong place. In the middle of my pine straw bed was a tiny little pine tree, boldly
declaring that it had now chosen its domain and had firmly planted itself in the middle of its newfound dominion for all to see.
Not to be bullied, I quickly asserted my dominance as I bent over and grabbed it by its pretentious little one inch tall head, and then yanked it completely up out of the grown. As I had intended, my victory was now complete. This audacious assault on my kingdom by such an inconsequential young upstart had been thoroughly thwarted!
And then, something happened that completely changed my perspective. As I prepared to fling the remnants of my defeated foe off into the woods, I caught sight of something that made me rethink my actions.
True, this little pine tree was not one inch tall. But, with its root system still intact, including its three inch long tap root, it was all of four inches long. For some reason, this sparked within me a sense of respect. And I reconsidered my actions.
By comparison, most of the weeds I pull up are just troublesome little things that have no real justification for me giving them any respect. Their roots systems prove this. When extracted, their roots show that they are shallow indeed. Often, the weeds are two to three inches above ground and only a half inch or so beneath. Thus, they show themselves to be without any firm anchor.
It is apparent then that their little lives are intended to be totally self-serving. They intend to live only for the moment, to be here for a short time, to extract what they can from their environment, and then to die. In the process, they arguably use up valuable space and precious resources while serving no redemptive purpose. In fact, they only prove to make their surroundings uglier for all their efforts.
Not so with this little pine tree. It had already spent far more time investing in its root system than in its trunk and foliage. It obviously intended to be there a while. Furthermore, it intended to make something of itself. It intended first to go deep so that it could later go high! And as it did, it intended to have staying power. It was determined not to be a mere annual, but a perennial bloomer!
I realized that, as a result, one day, if it was allowed to pursue its goals, it would indeed grow tall and full. And in the process, it would provide benefit to other living things as well. One day, perhaps, it would help hold the soil. It would provide food and shelter for birds and squirrels. And who knows, it might even provide shade for some finicky future homeowner as he laboriously scours his yard for troublesome and pesky weeds that have dared to trespass upon his realm.
So, I took my little tree and brought it inside. I placed it in a cup with potting mix and water. Later, I replanted it in a suitable position. And these days, as I pass by my newfound friend, I observe with tremendous satisfaction its continued growth and development. And as I do, I wonder what it will look like one day when it finally has grown into its full glory. I may never live to see that day; but I have seen it in my mind’s eye already, and that it is good enough for me.
Of course, being a Minister of the Gospel, I could not help but be reminded of the very first Old Testament Psalm, which states: "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to
Herein lies a great irony. As I have viewed my little tree, so does the Lord view me! It was completely within His power to thwart me and my life before it ever unfolded. Yet, because I was willing to go down before I went up, because I was willing to be humble before Him, He showed me mercy. He then plucked me up out of my pretentiousness and precariousness, and graciously re-planted me in an ideal place with wonderful potential for growth and a meaningful life.
And through His grace, I hope not to wither, but to grow and blossom and to produce fruit that is beneficial to others along the way. As Jesus said (in Matthew 13:31-32): "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
And all this for no other reason than because almighty God took pity on me! And what He has done for me, He has done for all, including you. I hope you are aware of this. I hope you are willing to surrender to the will of the One who knows best when and where to plant your life.
And that whenever His gracious hand reaches down and encompasses you, that you will completely surrender yourself to Him and wholly abandon yourself and your fate to His will. Take it from one who has experienced this process first hand; you will not be sorry that you did!