Suggest that some natural disaster represents God’s judgment, and people will fall all over themselves condemning how judgmental you are. After all, God is love. But God is also judge.
And he’s also Father. Disobeying any father always has consequences.
No one can connect whichever natural disaster is currently in the headlines with any particular judgment.
So I’d like to suggest a sign of judgment, indeed a sign of a curse, we all know.
Not many of us are farmers these days, but most of us have some kind of yard or garden. Even urban apartment-dwellers see lawns and flower gardens in public places. And the weeds in them.
God showed his displeasure at Adam’s rebellion by cursing the ground. In the New Testament, Jesus used weeds as a metaphor for what springs up unbidden in our minds.
Weeds in the ground
And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’:
“The ground is cursed because of you.
You will eat from it by means of painful labor
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow
until you return to the ground,
since you were taken from it.
For you are dust,
and you will return to dust” Genesis 3:17-19 (HCSB).
The Garden of Eden had ideal conditions for growing anything. Yet Adam had the task of taking care of it. He had work to do there, but no futility.
In autumn, many of us have to rake leaves, prune bushes, build compost piles. Even before the fall, we can see Adam performing those chores. Scripture doesn’t say if Eden had four seasons, but why not?
But Adam didn’t have to pull weeds.
I grew up in the Midwest, where nothing much grows in the winter. Now I live in North Carolina, where we have warm-weather and cold-weather weeds. Last winter, I didn’t bother to pull weeds. So last spring I noticed that they choked out half of the periwinkle I planted under my big shade tree.
Weeds are nothing but an ugly nuisance in the yard or flower garden. When they choke out food plants, they can lead to financial ruin for farmers. Or for subsistence farmers, even starvation.
Disobedience has consequences.
Weeds in the mind
I’m not calling Eve Satan. Eve was the man’s name for the woman. God’s name for both of them was Adam.
And by obeying Satan, Adam became his lawful slave. He acknowledged Satan, in other words, as the god of this world.
Satan wants only to steal, kill, and destroy. He does so in part by planting thoughts in our minds that choke out God’s word. Weeds of the mind.
Jesus described Satan’s weeds in his explanation of the parable of the sower:
Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. – Mark 4:18-19
Elsewhere in Scripture we find other kinds of thoughts we can compare with weeds, thoughts that contribute to the effects Jesus described:
- judgmental attitudes
And in our own strength, we are powerless to do anything about them. In Ephesians 4:31 Paul tells us to let them be put away from us. In other words, our part is to yield them up. God and God alone can put them away from us.
And here’s the grace. He wants to restore us more fervently than we want to be restored.
In John 15:1, Jesus identified himself as the vine and the Father as the vinedresser. In other words, as the gardener.
Like the weeds that grow in our sidewalks, Satan’s weeds spring up unbidden. Like the weeds in our gardens, they can appear stronger and healthier than what we intentionally planted.
We need only abide in the vine, keep our minds stayed on Jesus, whatever other scriptural image will stick in our minds. We have to want the word of God in our spirit more than our natural self wants to keep the weeds. Then the vinedresser will tend to us.