bah. I would post more if 1 or both of 2 things happened: 1) I could post from my phone directly onto blogger, or 2) I could email a note to myself and then cut and paste that here on my computer. I have things to say, but I'm not usually on the computer when I think of them! (my phone is another appendage, so I always have it with me.)
Anyway, this is something I'm thinking about talking about during an opening for Bible study in a couple of weeks. It's not perfect, but what I was thinking at the time.
It's no wonder that sin is compared to weeds. I was recently weeding the little plot in my backyard that is designated for my vegetable garden in preparation for planting. I haven't really done anything with it since the last tomato harvest in September. Man, do weeds grow quickly and take over everything! It took me over 2 hours to get all the weeds out, and I filled an entire wheelbarrow full.
So, how are weeds like sin? I'm glad you asked!
1) They can take over an area that was meant for something useful if we are not diligent in taking care of it.
2) Some weeds are easy to pull out. They're small and don't have much of a root system. Those are like the little things that get in the way of our daily walk with the Lord, but they're easy enough to notice and remove quickly to get back on track to having a clean space.
3) Some weeds need extra muscle power and even tools to get out. They have roots that are deep and wide reaching. These are the ones that are the sin we fall prey to on a regular basis- ones that are a major stumbling block in our lives. These need to be removed with tools- prayer, memorizing scripture for the times that temptation arises, fasting, accountability partners, and the like. Sometimes we are unable to get the whole root out, not matter how much we try. But, each time it comes up, with the right tool, and noticing it early, the weed is easier to pull out. If it comes back again, it's not as firmly rooted and is even easier to pull out. (Unless we ignore it and let it continue to grow.) Eventually, all the roots will be found, and the weed/sin will be gone for good. This is victory as a believer as well as a gardener!
4) The earlier they are detected, the smaller they are and the easier they are to remove.
5) Sometimes there are things in our garden that aren't necessarily weeds, but they aren't plants that belong in that space. Suppose you have a pretty ground cover nearby. It's great while it's contained, but if it gets into the garden, it will take over everything else and crowd out the things that were being grown there. Ground cover has a purpose where it is, but when it gets outside its domain, it is no longer a good plant. This is like the interests that aren't necessarily bad in our lives, but if they're not properly contained, they can take over. (I think specifically time wasters.) Or, they're pretty and nice, but in the wrong place, they're not what was intended. This is like when we try and move ahead of God and His will. The ground cover is great plant, but its place is not in a vegetable garden. So, even that nice, pretty plant needs to be removed.
6) After all that weeding is done, we need to make sure to cultivate the soil so the plants that are supposed to be there can flourish. They need special care, attention, and love. The soil needs to be mixed up with plant food (in our case, Bible study, regular church attendance, spending time with friends that encourage us closer to the Lord). It also needs to be ready. If not, you may miss the prime planting window. Things will still grow, but they may not be as fruitful as they would have been had the garden been tended to in the right time.
Think about it. Are there any areas of your life where you have things that are good, but out of place, that God might be asking you to remove? Any things that need to be contained? How about big weeds that can be made a little smaller this time? Or little weeds to rid of now so they don't become bigger and harder to remove? Will you allow Jesus to be your master gardener, telling you what needs to be planted and where? Tell you what might be planted in the wrong season or place? By constantly ridding our gardens of weeds and unnecessary plants, we allow room for optimal growth of nourishing, life-giving plants, ones that were meant to be there, picked especially for us, by Jesus. By constantly spending time with Him, we understand when the right time is to move and be part of what He is doing. We cultivate a heart of readiness to do what He wants, when He wants it. He wants to grown in each of us the perfect garden of talents and gifts meant to glorify Him.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
We are currently going through Genesis in my local Community Bible Study and our leadership team just finished reading chapters 34-36. Genesis 34 is the story of the rape of Dinah and what comes from that. I've now read the story half a dozen times or so, and maybe half that in the last week. I am bothered by this story at a very deep level; one that I'm having a hard time trying to figure out why my reaction is so strong. Rape is never an easy topic, sure. It's sad what happened, absolutely. But why am I feeling so angry toward this story? I've never felt that before. I have said in the past that while I like the name Dinah (God has judged), I could never name a daughter that because of what happened to her.
Here's what I think: I think God is moving me to something bigger than I know. I don't know what that is at the moment, but I am angry. It makes me so, so sad that this girl is a mere footnote in the line of the Patriarchs. Here she is, important enough to be named as a descendant of Jacob, but not important enough to be thought of in the aftermath of her rape. Dinah goes out to meet with other women, and Shechem sees her, desires her, then violates her. There is no evidence that she did anything to bring this on- no mention that they knew each other before this encounter. He saw, he liked, he took. He then placated himself by realizing that he did, in fact, like her, and spoke tenderly to her afterward, and asked his father to ask Jacob for her hand. Just because he tried to make good, does not make his action any less reprehensible.
Jacob's sons hear about this and are filled with grief and fury, rightly so! This is the only time that there is any response that is fitting to the crime against this poor girl. In that grief and fury, they should have gone to her and processed with her, loved her, spoken quietly of the love of Yahweh to her. (I'm sure that's not how things worked in their culture, but someone should have done these things.) At this moment, Dinah needed her family to help her heal from her shame, not just avenge the wrong done to the family name. God deals with the wrongs Simeon and Levi enact by not allowing either of them the honor of being the ancestor of Jesus, (though Levi is the father of the priestly order. hmm. curious. Maybe that means Simeon was the ring leader?)
But, what of Dinah? We never hear from her again. Her rape merely set the stage for God to move Jacob away from this land and preserve the people of the covenant. That doesn't mean I think that God doesn't care about her and her hurts. I absolutely know he does. I hope that she was able to go to the Lord with all her hurts, physical and otherwise, and be ministered to in a way her family didn't. I also know that her rape wasn't really the point of this story. but I think that's what makes me so sad. She was just an afterthought in this whole mess. In ancient cultures, she would have been considered damaged- no one would marry her now. From this moment on, she has no future to speak of. She is forever just a footnote.
As for me, my heart is breaking as I write this. I don't want this to be one of those times I feel God stirring something in me and then do nothing about it. I want to stay uncomfortable until God reveals to me what He has planned. I want to be a champion for someone, something. God has placed a desire on my heart to be involved with women's ministry, and I currently am in a small group leader role. I'm not sure if that is the extent of that desire, or if there is something else out there. I do have my RN license, and am fascinated with infectious disease and public health. I also have a family that I KNOW God has asked me to care for and stay home with in this season of my life. There has to be a way these things can work together, because I know they are all from the Lord. I am currently doing a Lenten devotional series that I am getting via email, and the very first one came yesterday. Fittingly, as I'm processing all of this, the writer talks about using this season of Lent as a time to break the silence and speak out for those that cannot. The passage referenced is Jonah 3:1-4:11. Jonah speaks, and Ninevah is saved from destruction. Who am I to speak out for? What is around me that is shrouded in secrecy that needs to come to the Light of healing? The writer is starting to speak out on violence toward women. Ironic, no? For which of the voiceless is God calling YOU to be a voice? My prayer is to find that answer.