The Ivy of the Heart
I was working outside in my yard earlier today when I noticed some extensive growth coming through the slats in the wooden fence that surrounds my back yard. I had previously noticed ivy growing and intertwining itself with the fence, but this somehow seemed a little different. On closer inspection, I noticed some rather large weeds that were also growing along with the ivy. They had become so entangled, that it was difficult to see where the ivy began and the weeds ended. Now, I happen to like ivy very much and allowed it to flourish, thinking it would make a nice covering to the fence. However, I had not counted on weeds invading and actually using the ivy to promote it's own growth. As I prepared to separate the two, I got a little more than what I had bargained for. It turned out that the weeds were not just your every day type of weed. These guys had big thorns, as in the rose bush variety, which caused me to be very cautious in removing them from the ivy and my fence. As I started cutting away the weeds, I had to also cut some parts of the ivy because I couldn't separate the two from each other. I became a little irritated with myself for allowing this to go on and getting this bad. I had seen the ivy for weeks, but never paid too much attention to the weeds, until they were too big to ignore. Now they were a nuisance, they could hurt my children and I had to do something. It was during this time the Lord spoke to my heart.
He reminded me how many things He has placed in nature show His handiwork, but also give a glimpse of how things work in the spiritual realm. This reminder brought a few scriptures to my remembrance:
"Later that same day, Jesus left the house and went down to the shore, where an immense crowd soon gathered. He got into a boat, where he sat and taught as the people listened on the shore. He told many stories such as this one: A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. ... Other seeds fell among THORNS that shot up and choked out the tender blades. Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain. The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don't understand it. ... The THORNY ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.
The Kingdom of heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as everyone slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. The farmer's servants came and told him, 'Sir the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds'. 'An enemy has done it', the farmer exclaimed. 'Shall we pull out the weeds?' they asked. He replied, 'No, you'll hurt the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds and burn them and to put the wheat in the barn.' " (Matt. 13: 1-9, 18-30 NKJV)
Jesus often used examples like this because they were easy to understand by the people hearing the message as it was preached. Many were agrarian and knew well about planting and harvesting and keeping out weeds and thorns. However, this simple illustration can be beyond many of us unless we are familiar with the circumstances. In this passage of scripture, commonly called the Parable of the Sower, Jesus likens the ground to our hearts (vs. 19). "Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts." He also goes on to point out that the "thorny ground" represents the cares of this world (vs. 22). So, we can see from this passage, that He really isn't talking about simply planting seed, but how the Word of God is planted in our hearts, and how other things can affect it and make it unfruitful in our lives. We can hear the Word, but it doesn't bring about any real change, no real power to make us different, to conform us to the image of Christ, as long as we allow the thorns, the enemy, life's pressures and problems to choke out and kill the seed He sows.
In my example above, my negligence allowed the "thorns" to spring up and the "message" of the ivy was crowded out. It was so easy to ignore the small weeds, until they became too big to ignore. How many times do we allow "thorns" to grow along side the ivy in our own hearts, ignoring them until they become big enough that they crowd out our "message"? Ever met any really talented and wonderful people but you couldn't get past a certain part of their personality or lifestyle to get to know them better? Did they have a "thorny" side that kept you and everyone else at bay? Was the "message" or value God placed in them crowded out by the "weeds"? We all know people like this. We are like this at times. Did you ever notice how easily weeds seem to grow? If doesn't take much dirt, water or sunshine for them to flourish. Weeds can grow where grass can't at times and if you don't do anything about it, they will take over your yard. Some weeds even look like grass in the early stages. Our hearts are much like lawns with bald spots or problem areas that won't grow much grass, but if we don't attend to it, that bald spot will be full of weeds real soon!
Paul warns about this in the book of Hebrews: "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled." Hebrews 12: 14-15 NKJV That ROOT OF BITTERNESS is the "thorny weeds" that get into our hearts, The hatred, jealousy, unforgiveness, pettiness, childishness and host of others. We are warned to "pursue peace with all people AND holiness" or we won't see God. We are told to look carefully, ..."lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS springing up cause trouble". I would encourage each of us to "pursue peace, holiness and look carefully" for a "ROOT OF BITTERNESS" that would spring up and cause trouble, defiling many. Get rid of that "thorny weed" that God is showing you exists in your heart. Remove it before He does!
Willie Jefferson, 8/24/97
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