Monday, 4 July 2016

Character training from the weeds {pull them out while you can}

Finally. It happened.

I had a day with no rain, and a chance to go to the shops and buy some plants for the garden.

Yes. I was finally in my garden to sort it out properly, for the first time this year.

It was a mess. Weeds. Plants that hadn't been cut back. Dead plants that needed to be lifted, and which I hadn't even noticed were rotting away at all.

Usually I am well sorted by July, with plants growing nicely, and flowers in abundance. However, a combination of a small person who is quite high maintenance, and nasty damp weather, had held me back from getting to the garden to sort it out.

I forgot how much I missed it.  The feel of the earth on my hands.  The satisfaction of getting rid of weeds and creating cleared space. The joy of purchasing and planting beautiful things, resulting in a much brighter garden.

There is still much to do, including more pruning and weeding, and a painting job I want to do.

But, the best part? How the Lord whispers lessons into my heart and soul, whilst working with the wonders of His wonderful creation. Nearly EVERY single time, I seem to see something valuable to learn.

Today was no exception.

Four lessons, no less.

But, I will only cover one per post!

The one I want to share first is one that is so important as a parent.

Weeds. Weeds. Weeds.

The bane of gardening life. One of my biggest jobs that I still need to work on is to get rid of weeds. Not only do they spoil the look of the garden, but ultimately they stop the plant from growing as it should, and can sometimes kill the plant entirely.

The lesson I considered today was one of nipping things in the bud early. Pardon the pun. As a result of not dealing with the weeds when they were tiny, and only beginning to grow, I now have some hum-dingers growing around my dahlias in the front garden. It looks 50/50 weeds plants. That is never good.

I have nettles (don't talk to me about nettles - my hand hurts as I type!) - I have thistles - I have kinda' pretty looking pink ones that will go to seed and multiply if I don't sort them out. In fact, most weeds will eventually do that - think dandelion, for a start. (oooooh... something else has just sprung to mind!!!) All mixed liberally in with what SHOULD be there. My soon-to-be-beautiful dahlias.

It got me thinking about my children. Do you ever feel, particularly with children aged between about 2 and 4, that you are scolding them and telling them "no" a LOT? It you don't feel like that, you maybe should!! It's that formative age where they try and push boundaries, trying to get away with wrong behaviour every opportunity they get. It's part of human nature. Some of it is simple childishness, but much of it is sin. If you don't sort it out - by training and by discipline/consequences - whilst they are little, these sinful traits will just grow until they are choking out the good in a child, or at least spoiling the "beauty" in their character. I've seen it before. And, I can also see in my own children where I could have done with "weeding" more diligently when they were younger, because there are traits that are spoiling things now.

There is no such thing as perfect children. Likewise, there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

BUT, we CAN work at doing all we can to faithfully train our children, to the glory of God, whilst they are young. We can't save them, but we can guide them into ways that are God-honouring. We can teach them faithfully of what God expects of us morally, and spiritually. We can train them to behave in a way that shuns the behaviour that is wrong, and embraces that which is right. It's not our role as parents to save our children - we cannot - but it's our job to honour the Lord in how we raise them. We don't want an ugly mess when they are growing up, all because we don't tend their hearts and lives when they are young.

It's hard work. We need to keep at it and be consistent. Like a garden, weeds will keep cropping up. But, trust me, sorting it out when they are small plants is FAR easier to do than when the plants grow up. Now that my plants are bigger it's MUCH harder to get to the weeds. Firstly, because the roots of the weeds have got deeper and thicker. Then also because it can cause hurt to the plant to try and get rid of the weeds.

What a powerful reminder to me of the crucial work of tending to the behaviour of my children! If I neglect it whilst they are young it is SO much harder to deal with when they are teens. That time when the plant should be growing strong and blooming beautifully is NOT when I should then be starting to think "hang on, how did I not notice these "weeds" of ugly behaviour until NOW?"

We, as the parents, are the "gardeners" responsible for pulling out the weeds of deceit, lying, stroppiness, laziness, argumentativeness, rebellion and disrespect whilst our children are young. It's definitely easier to teach them when they are little, than when they are more strong willed and older. Not easy, but easier.

And, like the weeds, if we wait until the weeds have taken root, and starting to seed, then these sinful and ugly behaviours will just spread and take hold further, the later we leave it.

We need to recognise those things which God does not want in our children - spot the "weeds" - and pull them out when they are just beginning to rear their ugly heads. If we know ourselves what is right and wrong, according to the gardener's manual - God's Word -  then we will know how to sort it out. We need to be fully aware of what those traits are, in order to weed them out.

Keep at it "gardener" of little souls. By God's grace and help, you can train your children to be those who honour God.

Keep at it "gardener" of those who are getting bigger. Pull out those weeds whilst you can still grab them and get all the root out.

Keep at it "gardener" of those who you look at, like my ugly garden, and think "help!!! - what have I done??". God is able to redeem those years. Don't look at what you haven't done, but look at what you can STILL do!

Above all else, remember that the Holy Spirit is able to do that work of saving grace in their hearts and lives. Cry out to Him daily to help you as a parent, and to save their souls and do a personal work of grace in their lives. He is able and willing to save.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"
Galatians 6:9

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