Cultivating My Most Dreaded Weed


I despise Creeping Charlie (otherwise known as ground ivy). The little purple flowers which occasionally bloom may be pretty, but it is an invasive weed which destroys everything in its path and has ravaged large swaths of our yard.

Last week, as I was at a Benedictine retreat center in town, God directed my attention to the weed. I was talking to him about an event earlier in the month which had sent a bolt of panic through me. In the middle of the night, Janine accidentally stepped on a dog we were taking care of. Both she and the dog cried out, and I sat up in bed in utter terror shouting "What is it? What's wrong!" I was convinced something tragic had happened - perhaps to one of the kids.

It occurred to me that my reaction revealed something broken inside me, a quiet, lurking fear that tragedy waits around a corner. Many comment on my calm (almost sedate) demeanor. But there have been several instances where I have been gripped with sudden terror.

As I walked the Benedictine grounds, holding these events out to God, I felt him directing me to get down on my knees and study this hated weed. Then he spoke to me. "I want you to grow this weed in your flower garden, but do not allow it to take over." It seemed absurd. After years of desperately trying to wipe this weed off of the face of our property, God clearly called me to cultivate it in our garden.

Janine has graciously humored me ... after all, the garden is her handiwork. I suppose both she and I can at least be grateful that God did not instruct me to walk around prophesying naked for three years as he did Isaiah (see Is. 20:2-4). So I have dutifully planted this dreaded weed amongst our beautiful and delicate flowers, and I am reflecting on what God might be saying to me through all this.

Though it is premature to draw any conclusions at this time, I have been thinking about how those things which are broken, bent or out of proportion in our lives, have their place, so long as they are kept within boundaries. Could it be that panic is part of God's beautiful design? How do you keep fear, hatred, anger and such alive without letting them take over?

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