Each year the Walker family wages war against a ragweed plant that grows behind the shed in the back corner of our yard. Some years I keep the errant plant mowed down. Some years my wife, Betsie, takes care of it with the weed whip. But some years that ragweed gets away from us. This was one of those years. For whatever reason neither lawnmower nor weed whip made it into the corner of the yard and the ragweed flourished.
We realized, one morning, we had let the weed go untended for too long as we looked back and saw it swaying in the wind. This is no little ragweed plant just a few inches tall, but the insidious species known as Great Ragweed. Our unwelcome plant had grown into a 6-foot tall monster. It looked more like a small tree than a weed. This is not good news for a family that is full of pollen allergies.
Betsie, in a moment of determination, grabbed some pruning shears and attacked the green beast. Some of the stems were too tough for Betsie to trim, and our Labrador happily jumped in to help tear out these overgrown stems. She trotted around the yard triumphantly swinging the stem like a trophy. Unfortunately, the dog coated herself in ragweed pollen and earned herself a bath later that day.
So, for another year the ragweed monster is conquered, but it will grow back. It does every year. You see, part of the plant grows in the corner of our yard and part of the plant grows between the fences of four different yards. It’s beyond our reach. As long as the root survives in the unreachable land between the fences, the ragweed will keep growing back.
The human struggle over sin is the same. Whatever you and I may do to deal with the ugly stuff of life, the root is beyond our reach. I might be able to keep it trimmed and under control for a season, but as long as the root remains, sin lives on and will begin to spread again.
We are living in a difficult time; a global pandemic, injustice in our communities, political divides, economic fears, and all this on top of our own personal struggles. Any solution we offer on our own is like mowing down that ragweed plant. The problem is fixed temporarily, but the root remains beyond our reach. In the end, our best efforts cannot eliminate the weeds.
Fortunately, help is available. You and I can only trim the weeds of life. Jesus, by his death on the cross, has conquered sin at the root and purchased redemption for you and me.
There’s more to weed removal. I want you to think about. It’s not enough to simply remove the leaves, branches, stems or even the roots. If all you do is remove, then you are left with a hole.
The Bible asks us instead to become rooted in Christ. Colossians 2:6-7 tells us “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Our goal is not just the removal of sin but being filled with Jesus. Whenever you face struggles, ask yourself where you are rooted. Chances are if you are feeling overwhelmed you might be trying to put roots in something or someone else other than Jesus.
You don’t have to live with the monster weeds of life. There is much you and I should do to keep the weeds under control, but start by letting Jesus take care of the root of sin. Then make sure you become rooted and established in him.
Rev. Josh Walker is the pastor of Valleyview Evangelical Friends Church located at 868 W. William St. in Delaware.