There’s something powerful about sitting outside and breathing in God’s beautiful handiwork. There’s a calmness and peacefulness I feel as I admire flowerbeds expertly planted and pruned. Countless hours of attention have been spent carefully pulling weeds from the soil while knowing exactly which plant to place where for optimal growth. I could spend hours just admiring the beauty of someone else’s work while wishing mine looked the same.
Instead of walking through lush grounds with magnificent gardens, I walk my partially watered yard and see tangible proof of neglect. I sit on my porch and list all of the very good reasons why I haven’t spent time working in my flowerbeds giving them the attention they deserve. All the excuses I list won’t change the reality that I’ll never see the same results I long for if I don’t put in the necessary time to produce continual results. It’s weeds, partially watered grass and overgrown plants that are my reminders of what happens when my priorities change.
If you’ve spent much time gardening, you know weeds are opportunistic and can sprout up seemingly overnight. They don’t grow slowly over months, but rather what feels like after just a few minutes of inattention or distraction. The beauty I crave will only come from a daily and consistent focus.
Our faith is no different than the flowerbeds I admire. Going to church or sitting in a small group Bible study is a wonderful way to be exposed to the beauty of God, but without putting in the effort for ourselves, we’ll never see the tangible results of His work in our life.
Often at night as I start to drift asleep and am in this vulnerable, quiet time, I come face to face with the weeds that have grown in areas of my neglect. It’s in these moments when the Enemy whispers his lies the loudest. As I attempt to drift off to sleep, my mind, IF I LET IT, will shift to ALL of the VERY legitimate worries and concerns I have, and will begin to list every bad thing that will LOGICALLY happen to my family in the months ahead. It’s during these dark hours that the Enemy strategically whispers his lies when I’ve been too busy to consistently spend time with God, and now weeds have grown from my neglect and distraction.
There are some key lessons I’ve learned over the months when the Enemy whispers his lies. One, if I ALLOW the thoughts to linger then I become anxious and fearful and unable to rest. (Yes, I said, ALLOW). The Enemy can’t make me think anything I don’t allow. He can whisper all he wants, but it’s MY CHOICE whether or not I listen and let the thoughts in or if I immediately dismiss them for the lies they are. In the beginning, it may seem impossible to control, but as you practice not allowing every thought that enters your mind to stay, but rather “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” then you will see the whispers for the lies they truly are.
Taking your thoughts captive is a great first step, but to make them obedient to Christ requires that you ALREADY KNOW what God says. In both Matthew 4 and Luke 4 you can read Satan tempting Jesus. With EVERY temptation, Jesus responded with “It is written” quoting to Satan what God had ALREADY spoken in His word. From personal experience, this is a hard thing to do if you haven’t ALREADY memorized verses and hidden them in your heart. It’s hard to tell Satan what God says if you only kinda sorta know what God says. It’s hard to make Satan’s lies obedient to Christ if you haven’t made yourself obedient first.
There have been many nights when those whispers of fear come that I’ve let my guard down, and I struggle with finding any peace or rest. There have been many nights when those whispers come, and I know they are lies, but I can’t quite remember the scripture well enough to squelch the fears. It’s during these moments that I’ve realized just how important memorizing God’s word REALLY is. It’s not a nice thing to do, but a requirement if I intend to continue to battle Satan and his army of lies successfully.
So much of the stress, struggle and turmoil we face are weeds that we’ve allow to grow during our neglect of a daily quiet time with God. Each of these grow from the lies we allow to take root in our thoughts. Whatever situation we’re battling, I promise there is a scripture that will give us the answers and support we need for our victory against the Enemy. It is up to us to make knowing God’s word a daily priority so that we, too, can expertly pull each of the Enemy’s lies up by the roots and make them obedient to Christ, and then sit in peaceful serenity as we survey the beauty that God has masterfully created in and through us.