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Beware of Counterfeits

I've enjoyed sharing just a few of the lessons I've learned in the garden with you. There are so many more that I could write about and have had a hard time deciding which one to conclude with.

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Greg Cultra of One Church Nashville was teaching on the sower's parable. I love that parable and have found myself in each scenario pictured there at one time or another. But in hearing the story again, my thoughts connected with the seed that fell among the thorns.

Matthew 13: 7

"Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants."

Who likes thorns? Not me. Ugh, the prickly, invasive, weeds that plunder my garden are so irritating. Weeds are sneaky. They adapt to whatever growing environment their seeds find themselves in. They can mimic the characteristics of the plants around them. Seemingly harmless, until their roots are so intertwined in the rest of the garden, and can't be removed without causing significant damage to the other plants.

I have a flower in my garden called Cosmos. Cosmos come in a wide array of colors, but orange is my favorite. Their delicate light green leaves, coupled with their brilliant orange flowers, make the garden come alive with color. The other thing I love about Cosmos is the fact that they re-seed every year and fill the garden with their beautiful blossoms by the middle of summer.

The first spring I grew Cosmos at our current home here in Tennessee, I was so excited as I generously sprinkled the Cosmos seeds in one of the planters. I was pleasantly surprised when so many green little shoots emerged. But, it seemed like there were more plants than the seeds that I had sown.

What I didn't realize at the time was there is a weed here in TN that very closely resembles Cosmos. These invasive invaders are called Spanish Needles. By the time I discovered their true nature, the nasty plants had wound their roots around my beautiful flowers and taken over. They grew taller and stronger, zapping the valuable nutrients from the soil.

That is how life is too. Counterfeits threatened to invade and entangle through every growing season in our lives. Maybe it is an unhealthy relationship, a destructive thought pattern, negativity, gossip, bitterness, or jealously. At first, they may seem harmless, but once their roots go deep, it causes damage to our lives and of those around us.

This spring, when the Cosmos began to sprout up, I was determined to catch the Spanish Needles early. The only problem was that the plants were so similar I couldn't tell the difference when they were small. But I found a secret weapon. It is an app on my phone that gives the names of plants. You take a photo of the plant in question, and it tells you what the name of the plant is. I must have looked like a nut out there, taking pictures of the tiny little shoots coming up, but it was awesome. I was able to identify and pull the destructive weed out by the root before it caused damage to my fragile baby Cosmos.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had an app for our lives? Oh, wait - we do. It is the Bible. The Bible lists out plainly what is beneficial for our lives and what isn't.

Galatians 5:19-21 it says:

"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

There are some no brainers on this list. But what about hostility, quarreling, jealously, or outbursts of anger? Then there is dissension and division. Oh yeah, those. They may start as a seed of bitterness planted, and when it takes root, it grows into a full-fledge weed of hostility.

Just like in my garden, if I wait too long, it can be a problem. I can't allow complacency or a busy schedule to keep me from maintaining my soul. If I do, I will have thorny, invasive weeds to deal with. Then I won't be as fruitful.

Galatians 5 goes on to say when I allow God to help me recognize and pull the weeds before they take root, I can expect good fruit.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

The garden is a wonderful teacher. If I'm attentive and follow the Master Gardener's instructions, I can learn what the counterfeits are in my life. The behaviors or thoughts that drain the life out of me and those around me versus those that produce beautiful, life-giving fruit. Fruit like love, joy, peace, and gentleness. Now that sounds like a beautiful garden.

It's been nice taking a rabbit trail to the garden with you. Thank you for indulging me.


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