This morning, I undertook a bit of gardening.
Those who know me will know I am not much of a gardener. I struggle to tell weed from plant, sunflower from green bean. But, when it comes to the sort of job that requires a bit of brute force and ignorance, I’m your man!
Our neighbour had pointed out that one of our fence panels was getting very damaged by an ivy plant that has been in the garden for years. But, acting on my neighbours concerns, I armed myself with some shears and a saw and began to tackle the plant.
The surface of the plant looked quite nice, even fairly attractive. As I began to remove the surface layers, I saw that the plant was twisted, intertwined, parts of it were quite thick through years of being left to grow. What looked, on the face of it, a fairly straightforward job, began to get heavier and harder.
Once I had got the plant down, I could see the full extent of the damaged fence beneath. My neighbour had seen what I could not.
This incident got me thinking.
As we go through life we can pick up knocks and bruises along the way. Our natural desire is to protect ourselves and so we allow things to “grow” around us as a form of hedge of protection. What we don’t always see is the damage these things can be doing to us.
Like my ivy plant, we sometimes need to do a bit of radical uprooting in our lives. We need to face, head on, the false hedge of protection that can causes so much damage.
I thought about some of the hedges of protection I have allowed to grow around me over the years. If I am honest, pulling up some of them, feels like incredibly hard work, have I the strength to do it? However, I do not have to face this work alone. God, by the power of His Holy Spirit can and will work within us to clear away those things that damage. Here is what the Apostle Paul writes;
God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
(Ephesians 3 vs. 20 – The Message)
I love that phrase “deeply and gently within us”.
He works within us as we, honestly, open our hearts to Him and allow Him to change us from the inside out.