Don’t Stop Now!
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
As I was standing in my garden watering it, I looked around to see how overgrown it had become. In the beginning we took good care of it, weeding and making sure everything was done correctly, giving it enough water and fertilizer. As time went on and we became busy, some of the weeding got put aside and soon there was just too much to keep up with. I still pulled around some of the plants, but some of the plants were a bit closer together and it was difficult to get in and weed properly (a lesson learned). Instead of watering every other day, we watered every few days and some of the plants suffered for it as they became dry and somewhat yellow. Some animal began eating pieces off the spinach and I stopped taking care of it instead of fixing the problem. Then the lettuce we planted wasn’t the same as last years and wasn’t to my liking but it grew well but I stopped eating it. When we tried to plant the lettuce from last year it didn’t grow well possibly due to old seeds. Still our garden produced and is still producing a good amount of food but how much greater would it have been (and better looking!) if we’d have kept up the work and continued maintaining what we had with diligence!
As I was thinking about this, the Lord was ministering to me about getting close to the harvest or to the end of a season and all I kept saying was “I know, Lord, I get it, I really get it!” and the scripture of the Ten Virgins came to mind. Only because it was getting towards the end when the bridegroom was to come and the virgins had to be ready, making sure they had what they needed. Some did and some didn’t and although both became tired and fell asleep as the bridegroom was delayed, half of them were prepared for the bridegroom to come while the other half weren’t and were scrambling around trying to find what they needed to be able to join the others. The end result was the following in verses 11-13:
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
They were turned away. All were invited to meet the bridegroom but only half took the time to prepare and be ready for the bridegroom to come. So how does this apply to my garden story and us? It represents our healing process and also how we, as Christians, can become tired and weary though we know the day of the Lord is coming very soon.
For the one in recovery, in the beginning of our healing process we work diligently in pulling the weeds from us, cleaning ourselves up and maintaining ourselves so we remain free of “weeds” that can overwhelm us and steal our nutrients…the Word of God. We allow ourselves to be distracted away from prayer and reading the Bible and we stop trying as hard to change our ways, allowing little bits of our old selves to come back in. We see it and know it’s happening and vow to correct it, but we continue allowing it until the weeds have returned and we become overwhelmed. We may still be producing some good fruit but how much better would it be if we had kept ourselves cleaned up and now allowed old irritations and habits to return. Sometimes there are others who seem to eat away at the good fruit we produced and instead of fixing the problem and protecting the fruit, we allow them to continue eating away at it and we stop watering it within ourselves, allowing it to dry up. In time, we are overgrown with old habits and issues and though we seem to produce some good fruit, we aren’t producing what we could have simply because we allowed other things to take priority and we stopped nourishing ourselves with prayer and the Word of God. Where we maintained daily, we now only do it every few days.
As a servant of the Lord, in the beginning we work hard and stay close to God, doing what He calls us to do. We are on top of things, work hard at taking care of the seeds we have planted in others by watering them with the Word of God and with wise words so they can grow and we can watch fruit being produced. But somewhere along the way we begin to allow weeds to pop up within ourselves and around our those we are serving. Sometimes our own weeds can choke out others. We soon become overwhelmed by the weeds, things that affect us, and allow them to grow amongst the plants and although good fruit is produced, how much better fruit would have been produced if we hadn’t stopped weeding. How much better would things have looked if we hadn’t allowed other things to distract us or take us away from what we had set out to do. Just like the lettuce in my garden, sometimes we can come upon some people who we don’t care for because they aren’t to our liking and we stop watering them although they have a purpose and are still good. Sometimes the seeds we plant are old seeds…maybe old thoughts, words, or actions that used to work in in our ministry or getting others to Christ, but they don’t work any longer and we have become frustrated and want to stop watering that plant because we feel it’s not growing like it should but in fact we may have to just plant new seeds by changing our way of reaching others. It’s not that we are bad servants or the people we are trying to reach aren‘t good, but it’s just a matter of changing our technique in reaching them, using new seeds as opposed to the old ones. We can’t allow others to chew away at the fruit we have produced but instead find a way to protect that fruit through prayer and intercession (which is where our true power and authority is), wise advice and what other ways the Lord brings to you.
The point is that whether we are in the healing process or a servant of the Lord, this isn’t the time to become weary and frustrated when we are so close to the end of the race. There is still more to harvest which means we must work even harder on ourselves to get our hearts right with God and work even harder bringing people to the Lord. We can’t allow distractions and frustrations to keep us from reaching the prize at the end:
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
If you are in recovery and have not done well at maintaining what God has cleaned, now is the time to regain control (self-control!) and begin weeding out those things that are not godly. If you are a servant of the Lord and have allowed other things and people to distract you, frustrate you and get you to a point where you want to stop watering others, realize it may only be that you need to start using new seeds instead of old ones…you may need to use different words or actions to reach others. Whether we are in recovery or are a servant of the Lord, we must begin weeding the garden! We must start by going to God, confessing our frustrations and our lack of weeding and ask His forgiveness. Then we must ask Him to help us get back on track to where we once were and show us to do this in a more effective way. Once you begin the process again and be consistent with it, you will see a much more beautiful garden and produce sweeter fruit!
Lord, I acknowledge that I have allowed weeds to creep up in areas of my life and have allowed others to affect me. I ask for forgiveness and to help me begin the weeding process. Help me to be consistent so I can be a better person and a better servant for you. Remove my weariness and renew me with your strength. Help me to run and not grow weary, to walk and not fain. Help me to produce better fruit than I did before, all for your kingdom and glory. I ask this in the name of Jesus…Amen.