Stubborn Joy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 16:13 ESV

…and those the Lord has rescued will return, they will enter Zion with singing, everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 35:10 NIV

Dandelions are one of the most persistent and stubborn of all common garden weeds. They’re also known as swine’s snout, yellow gowan, Irish daisy, priest’s crown, peasant’s cloak and wet-a-bed (possibly for its diuretic effect). The common dandelion was introduced to North America by European settlers in the 1600s. Settlers grew it in their gardens for food and medicine.
Although common garden weeds like the dandelion may make our lives difficult if they aren’t part of our landscape plans, our difficulty in eradicating them points to a natural strength we might choose to emulate, especially when it comes to joy. Weeds stubbornly cling to life and proliferation, though rare is the gardener who invites them into their garden or seeks to nourish them. As is the case with the useful dandelion, joy in its proper context, righteous joy that encourages our spirit and binds us to God, should be sought by every believer. Though certainly not every circumstance we experience is joyful, God invites us to inhabit his joy in the midst of every circumstance anyway.

Joy, you have always found me when I called,
though the times at times were desperate.
When fears and doubts filled my mind,
your stubborn light still calmed it.

No matter the matter with me,
or standard attacks from the enemy,
when I sought you out within
the treasure of God’s word
you became for me a lifeline to victory.

Though joy impostors
spawned by a lost world
may seem right for a time,
Their empty promises
and false flags unfurled
will always be revealed as lies.

True joy does not compete with God,
but draws us to him instead.
A diet rich and uplifting
filled with his love
should always be our bread.

©Joel Tipple 06/29/2019

How are your weeds?

In a previous post I noted that I love seeing things grow. Even though I’m not a terribly proficient gardener, I’ve never lost that childlike fascination with seeing a freshly tilled and planted garden bed develop. Even though the final product is my favorite part of the process, I enjoy all of it: the blank slate, the first shoots coming through the earth, the mature plant with whatever colors God has imbued it with.

Something every gardener knows, of course, is that no matter what you’re growing, you’re going to have to contend with weeds. Now, there are weeds and there are weeds. In fact, there are plants we grow on purpose that a lot of people would consider weeds. Sometimes we let particular weeds proliferate if we happen to like them. Weeds generally don’t ask permission to enter our gardens, they just rush right in, with barely a nod to the guy at the door checking his list. Sometimes, when a plant is in its early stages, I’m not sure if I should pull it or if it might be something I put there on purpose. Sooner or later, I’m able to make a more informed decision. Some weeds are easy to get rid of, as long as you don’t let them get out of hand. Other weeds have especially deep roots and resist removal with tremendous determination. If I didn’t dislike them so much, I might admire their tenacity. The real difficulty for the gardener here is that if left unchecked and unweeded, our garden will eventually succumb to whatever chooses to fill the empty space in between the flowers. Then, because they are the bullies of the yard, the weeds will take over the whole plot. Nature really does abhor a vacuum.

Christian lives illustrate the weed principal well, as with one of Jesus’ teaching stories, “The Parable of the Weeds.” Matthew 13:24-30
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

I believe one of the challenges every Christian must face daily is identifying the weeds in their lives. It isn’t an easy struggle, but one every believer must endure.

Lord, you know where my weeds are.
You know where the flowers are, the vegetables and fruit.
You know when I’m tending to lies,
you know when I’m watering truth.
Help me see with your eyes, Father,
so the harvest will be worthy.
Let your will be my will
as I continue on this journey.