The berry patch just a couple of dozen feet beyond the edge of my back lawn always fights with me in the summer. The blackberry vines reach upwards to nearly six feet by midsummer. I know that’s because they used to live here, where my house and yard now blocks them. They certainly would love to come back to retake full ownership. When the house was built a bulldozer cleared a twenty foot buffer between the lawn and the vines. But the blade just scraped the surface so the roots were left intact, though out of sight for a very brief spell.
So now every summer I battle over the backyard buffer area. I tried spraying with berry vine poisons and it certainly killed the surrounding grasses, but the vines only hesitated before sending out their cousins. As part of my weekly mowing I went beyond the lawn and mowed off the new sprouts wherever they burst out. That knocked them down for the moment but a week later the vines were persisting, adding new inches and healthy leaves. Finally I dug at some of the main root bulbs, pickaxe swinging and sweat flying. Maybe four or five main roots out of dozens were defeated before I gave up for the day. I still go back from time to time and add more “conquered” ground and then plant grass where thorny vines used to prosper.
I think of how the Spirit works in my life. The thick-fibered affections planted from before I knew Christ (and some since then) are ever springing up in my attitudes and actions. Yet God is certainly a great weeder whenever I invite him to come help me out with these incursions. He even brings out the pickaxe if I ask for more than a superficial pruning, and the spots he digs into on those visits are the spots in the lawn of life that become uniquely attractive. I know he loves to do the heavy digging but I really hesitate to ask him. It’s a lot of disruption; and I really enjoy blackberries on summer dishes of vanilla ice cream.
………..”Yet God is certainly a great weeder whenever I invite him to come help me out with these incursions. He even brings out the pickaxe if I ask for more than a superficial pruning, and the spots he digs into on those visits are the spots in the lawn of life that become uniquely attractive. I know he loves to do the heavy digging but I really hesitate to ask him. It’s a lot of disruption;……….”
I was thinking about this as I weeded my own yard today. The things I was pulling up I actually wanted to let stay to see what they would become (I recently moved to a new state and climate and have very beautiful “weeds”.)
What stopped me?
I worried that if I let the weeds have their way, I would have a worse problem later on. It was then that I thought about this post you wrote and wondered how you were progressing with your blackberry battle.
I wanted to ask if you let some of them stay so you could enjoy the fruit or if you just set your mind to get rid of them completely, seeing them as “invaders”.
Not sure where I’m going with this other than to say that maybe it’s my OWN interference with the growths in my life and how often I let my OWN views or, more likely, the fear of the views of others, color what I find growing all around me.
Maybe I’m still walking that fine line between vision and perspective or maybe I’m learning about appreciation, balance and the Lord’s leading, but I know if I had my way I’d choose to co-exist with His creation rather than fight it.
As the sun shone down on me and the soft wind blew, I continued digging and disposing of each growth all the while feeling as if I was the one being pruned and the weeds were just the vehicle God used to get me there.
My last line of the original post left an intentional ambiguity…do I really want God to do the heavy weeding? And I really DO like the berries on ice cream in season (and yes, they’re still there today, properly restrained, and almost ready for the ice cream)!
Maybe we can’t push metaphors so far as that, but let me take this one a step further. Two “forces” are in play in my berry patch: the delicious berries (good!) and the uncontrolled ambitions of the hosting vines (bad!). Sin has a way of taking good things and removing their proper boundaries so they become destructive (to my lawn at the literal level and to my soul at the level of analogy). God’s gardening keeps the good in the good places if I enjoy having him take the lawn of my own life as his own.
I do appreciate your indulgence in my ponderings.
“Sin has a way of taking good things and removing their proper boundaries so they become destructive (to my lawn at the literal level and to my soul at the level of analogy)”
I may be taking a completely different tangent here, but as I read this line for the third time, it keeps hitting me how INVOLVED satan is in the complete destruction of just about EVERYTHING in the lives of God’s children; even the “blackberries”.
I think I needed to know this, Ron.
Another approach to blackberries is to cut them back to just stumps, and then smother them with heaps and heaps of compost. The heat from the compost “cooks” the vines, and any new growth that the roots muster will be thin and sickly (and easily removed). Eventually the energy stored in the roots will be exhausted.
There’s probably another metaphor here… ?
Thanks, Jeannie. I discovered that by accident! But right now I’m captured by my bushes and don’t really want them to disappear…i.e. right now the berries are ripe, sweet, and addictively delicious!
So my gardening is too much like real life: the thorny, invasive berry bushes can still captivate me, despite all the thorns and scratches they bring! And I’m enjoying too much vanilla ice cream too.