Apparently it is again the time of year when I venture into gardening. As I mentioned last year, I’m not very good at all this type of thing… but lest you be worried, my efforts thus far have been contained to pulling weeds.
There are a few planters near the entrance of camp and my house where we have planted bulbs/bushes. As they saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers…” and since the calendar turned to May there is a sudden burst of plant growth. Yesterday I set to pulling the undesired plants. In one planter an abundance of dandelion plants had firmly and deeply rooted themselves. I had to be very careful when digging those nasty beasties out because the tiny shoots springing up from the bulbs were very delicate and hard to see when hidden underneath the every growing dandelion mess.
When I came to the third planter, my efforts were exacerbated by a different type of weed. The immature form of this weed looked very similar to the immature form of the bulb plant’s growth. I had to be VERY discerning to ensure I was pulling the right plant. And to further complicate matters… this weed had grown in between the shoots of the bulbs. While the weed’s roots were shallow in comparison, they were extensive often spanning 8-12 inches in spread from plant to plant. So, even when I could properly identify a weed for removal, I had to use extra care to not damage the plants I had hoped to keep.
In one such frustrating moment, the parable of the Wheat and the Weeds from Matthew 13 sprang to mind:
24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
In this passage a kind of “corporate sabotage” was going on, something I can’t say I understand, which seems extremely devious to me… Rival farmers or at least a person with a grudge would ruin a farmer’s crop by planting weeds among his wheat. As I read more about the historical context, the story worsens, “It’s hard enough dealing with the weeds that grow naturally, but the “tares” weren’t ordinary weeds. They were commonly known as the “bearded darnel,” which belongs to the family of the rye grass. When these weeds grew, the plant in its early stage looked identical to the wheat, so you could not tell the difference. It’s only when they begin to mature that darnel is shorter and the color of the grain is grayer than the wheat. But what was the problem with these weeds? As I mentioned, it was not just an ordinary weed. The grain of the darnel was poisonous. So you can see why people were planting this out of revenge. The only way to save his crop was for the farmer and his laborers to go just before the harvest and pluck or root out the darnel first and tie them in bundles to be burned and then harvest the wheat. That is what the parable Jesus told was about.”
What an awful picture…
The disciples ask Jesus for more of an explanation to the meaning of this parable:
36 Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, “Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.”
37 Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels.
40 “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
As I was kneeling on the ground staring at the weeds… I began to think about the implications of Jesus’ parable.
It can be a hard reality to accept that God has allowed evil to continue to exist in our world. I find myself wondering why… why does God allow “bad” to continue to happen? Why doesn’t God remove people who are bent on hurting others, causing trouble, or who impede the growth of Christians? If God is all good, why not remove evil now?
The parable of the weeds and the wheat simultaneously challenges and encourages me.
-Challenges me because I realize that God is not going to uproot all evil immediately.
-Encourages me because I can see that God has a plan and a purpose, that God knows what He is doing.
God is not oblivious, nor is He uncaring. In my impatience I often need reminding of this! Because, let’s face it, it is hard to deal with evil surrounding us. It can be difficult to accept that God is allowing things to happen for a reason. Sometimes it doesn’t appear sufficient to know that in the end God will sort all things.
Here we are, again, reminded that we need to trust God… to remember that His ways are not our ways… to seek His truth even when circumstances don’t make sense to us… and to know that in the struggles of life, God reigns victorious.
This parable, of the Weeds and the Wheat, is one not to passed over quickly or lightly. What is God saying to you today through this portion of His word?