It’s possible to know there’s a problem and fail to deal with it for a long time.
We’ve had one of those problems in our back yard. When we first moved in we got rid of a number of trees that were growing too close to the house. Pine trees that shed their needles through the year, and shed branches in every storm. There was one that we thought should go, but decided to leave it, to wait and see.
Ever since then, the tree grew bigger. In every high wind it shed hundreds of pine needles and branches all over the grass and vegetable garden. It blocked the sunlight as well as poisoning the soil. In every night time storm I worried it may fall on the house.
Yet every spring we spoke with our neighbour about how annoying it was and how we all would like to cut it down and yet didn’t get round to it. It’s no small job. Felling the tree is one thing that has to be done with care (a good thing that our Canadian neighbours know what they’re doing with a chain-saw), but then the ground needs clearing and branches have to be disposed of, logs stacked. It’s a make work project.
This spring is different. Tim planned with our neighbour, got things ready and tonight was the night – well, part one of the project. A little discussion about which direction the tree should fall and then the job started.
Once the first half of the tree was down five of us worked away at clearing all the debris off the lawn. It didn’t take all that long. What we all noticed was the evening sunlight streaming into our yards.
Removing that tree is going to make a difference. The vegetables and grass will grow better because there won’t be so many pine needles making the soil acidic – and there will be more hours of sunshine on the garden. We won’t be worrying about the tree falling on the house. Even the inside of our house will get more light. There are many benefits for the effort put into removing it.
I realized that tree is a picture of unhelpful things I allow to grow in my heart. I know there have been times when I’ve thought that I could get away with not dealing with things. Whether it’s an unhelpful habit, or an attitude, or something or someone I’m loving more than I’m loving God. I think it won’t affect anything, but it grows and starts to block the light.
Just as taking down that tree in the next few nights will benefit our whole backyard and also those of our neighbours, getting rid of sin has a far reaching effect. Letting that tree live in our garden caused death to things we tried to grow. Letting sin grow in my heart does a similar thing. Getting rid of it takes some cleaning up, dealing with stuff always does, but the results are beneficial, not just in my own heart, but those around me. I don’t want to get in the way of the light.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives me a nudge and pinpoints those areas that need some drastic pruning. Thankfully He know what he’s doing. I can trust him with my heart. As Jesus said,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…” (John 15:1 NIV)