Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Gardening has always been a love of mine. I love watching other people garden. I love looking at things other people have grown. I love eating the items that result from other people’s work. Gardening is great in third person. For example I might say, “Wouldn’t it be really cool to have fresh herbs for cooking?” Larry understands that I mean, “Please, build me an herb stand, buy and plant the herbs and water them so I can clip a few herbs on the random day I might want to cook.”
During the sabbatical I took last fall, I began baking bread and actually gardening in the first person. My family was very concerned and more than once my boys asked “Who are you and what have you done with my mom?” During this time, we cleared and planted a garden that was about 25 feet by 25 feet. Planning, preparing and beginning a garden is hard but rewarding work. Maintaining a garden isn’t so much fun. Our land has a nice layer of dirt over the top of thick, matted, intertwined vines. It takes hours to clear one small area. After the area is cleared it takes just as long to revisit the site and maintain the cleared out spot. Vines (smelly vines) are much more aggressive than tender tomato plants.
I must have passed on my love for gardening to my Smelly Monsters. As a means of earning spending money, they have been given the opportunity to work in the yard this summer. The littlest Smelly Monster is fond of shopping but not so fond of working. His least favorite job this summer has been weeding. Therefore he has been given the most opportunities to overcome his aversion. Please don’t report me to Child Welfare Services. I am sure that making kids do their least favorite chore is in the “Parent’s Manual.”
Lesson number two has been a bit harder to put into practice. We have learned (doesn’t mean always put into practice) that we need to let go of bitterness fast and often. Just like the smelly, stink vines in our garden area, bitterness grows. The longer you ignore bitterness or heaven forbid feed or nurture bitterness the harder it is to deal with.
Hebrews 12:15 talks about the “root” of bitterness. After spending long hours pulling and clearing out vines and roots from our garden area, you would think that I would not have allowed even the tiniest little shoot to invade my garden. Not so! I was so tired of dealing with the difficult, painful vines that I gave up and went inside and pretended that the garden would be vine-free all summer. Thankfully, God blessed me with a plethora of children who want spending money and I was able to leverage that to my advantage. Our garden was cleared and I was once again gardening in the third person.
Unfortunately, personal bitterness isn’t as easy to delegate. We have to acknowledge that we are struggling with bitterness and not only deal with the obvious evidences but look for and attack the root. Obvious evidences of bitterness in my life have come in the form of self-pity, anger, a lack of compassion, sarcasm, depression, unreasonable expectation of others and the list could go on for days! Our scripture reminds us that “many be defiled” or made unusable by bitterness. Those evidences were outward signs of a deeper root. The root of my bitterness stems from trust issues. One of my favorite quotes from Cliff during his illness was that Faith is not us telling God what to do, but trusting that what God will do is right. Ick! I know! I struggle daily with letting go enough to trust God with the outcome of my requests.
So in review (I never stray far from my teacher habits) Lesson Two reminds us that bitterness must be addressed immediately and addressed over and over. I wish I could offer the silver bullet that would help you deal with your root of bitterness but I don’t. I hope it helps you to know that we all deal with bitterness and it isn’t easy for any of us. Don’t allow bitterness to keep you from fulfilling the God ordained part you are to play in the story of life.
Link to prologue post: http://wp.me/pFsxL-1z
Still Choosing Faith,