I have a very Darwinian view of yard work: it's survival of the fittest from the moment any plant makes its home on my property. I have learned that once plants take root in my yard, you can't kill them if you try. I have a geranium that has survived several snowstorms and is blooming to tell about it. The lantana in my front flowerbed should be featured in some horror movie about plants taking over a dwelling.

For a very few days — or sometimes several weeks — in the spring I get inspired to try to do something with the flower beds. Perhaps it's the nasty looks I keep getting from my next-door neighbor whose yard is professionally landscaped. Perhaps it's the fact that it's the very brief window of time between too cold and too hot. Perhaps it's year-long guilt over the neglect that has built up. At any rate, now is the time. I'm digging in to the front flower bed.

Last year, I did even less gardening than usual. Stressors continued to interrupt our spring and summer, so I could barely weed the mess out of my personal life, much less the weeds in my yard. I knew the plants and weeds would still be there when I was ready. Now that I'm finally ready, the weeds are definitely there. I have finally gotten enough weeds out to find the lantana. As I continued to weed and prune today, I muttered to myself, "What an unholy mess."

At first glance, it's hard to tell which is plant and which is weed. Then there is a thicket of dead shoots intermingled all through the live shoots. Unholy mess indeed! I would NEVER dream to compare my gardening skills to the work the Lord does in our lives, but I realized that without a gardener, we truly become an unholy mess. The difference in our lives and my poor lantana is that we can invite The Gardener into our lives and submit to the weeding and pruning that result in a healthy, thriving life. Or, we can be left to our own devices and end up a tangle of weeds, dead shoots, and anemic leaves.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1-2)

We can invite The Gardener into our lives.
Father, thank you for weeding out the mess. Thank you for loving us more than I love those poor plants in my front yard. Thank you for tending us, nurturing us, and seeing the beautiful flower we can become with your pruning, when we only see the dead shoots and weeds we have brought upon ourselves. Lead us to submit to the pruning with the knowledge that the gardener is loving and has beautiful things in mind for us.