My garden weeds were actually flowers. I just didn’t know it a few months back. I almost pulled those gangly eyesores. But the pink roses that bloomed unexpectedly in my own back garden, without any help from me, prompted me to take a wait and see approach. After all, I had limited horticultural knowledge in the States; I was even more clueless here in the strange and bipolar climate that is London. So I left those weeds alone, let them get good and ugly.
Then a peculiar thing began to happen. They bloomed. They turned into this:
Even the vine arching our front door produced these masterpieces, as intricate as spiders, but the kind of spiders you want hanging from your front door.
What loveliness to burst forth from such perceived ugliness! And to think I could have missed it. With the best of intentions, I could have destroyed my beautiful back garden with my own two hands. My impulse to yank and uproot was only to make things better. Deal with the problem. Take care of the mess. A natural response, similar to the impulse to jump in and eradicate any messy, any painful, any unpleasant thing that crops up in life.
Sometimes this is right. There are weeds in this world (both literally and figuratively) that won’t bloom into flowers. They’ll take over. Your garden. Your life. Weeds like greed and lust, bitterness and pride. Small weeds like: just a quick peek at that site. Just a little fudging of the numbers. Just a dinner with that person who isn’t my spouse. Sin doesn’t deserve a wait and see approach. Pluck that sucker out before it’s too late.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about another variety of weeds, the agitations that creep up not because of our sin and poor choices, but simply because we walk the earth. Difficult circumstances, or relationships, or inadequacies – ours and others – that frighten, exhaust, or grieve us. Common weeds – like sickness, suffering, loss, and disillusionment – that interfere with our vision of how we think life ought to look. Or hidden weeds like loneliness, anxiety and regret.
What, besides tears and frustrated sighs, could come from such yuck? Why would we ever take a wait and see approach and be okay with those weeds? Why shouldn’t we confront that contentious co-worker face to face? Punish that unruly child? End the crumbling marriage? Why would we take a wait and see approach with our feelings of disappointment, depression or humiliation?
We want those weeds out. We want out.
But the truth is, God gives the weeds.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
And the other truth is, the bad times might bear good.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. – Joseph (Gen. 50:20)
And draw us closer to the Lord Almighty.
The Lord is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope. (Psalm 34:18)
Equip us to help others.
…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:4)
Wake us up spiritually.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Ps. 119:17)
Grow our character.
…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Rom. 5:3-4)
Bring us to the end of ourselves so we can find our joy in him.
…do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13
I didn’t recognize the plants in my garden so had no way of knowing what, if anything, would bloom. We don’t always comprehend the hard things in our lives, but if God can make dry bones come alive, (Ezekiel 37) he can bring good from my dark times and yours.
This isn’t about denial, ignoring the problem with a delusional “All will be fine!” Waiting and seeing what the Lord may do is recognizing we’re not fully aware of what goes on under the surface.
So we wait
Give the weeds a chance to produce something good. Maybe not easy, maybe not even nice, but good. Perseverance. Empathy. Perspective. Contentment.
A blossom that takes you by surprise.
An outcome you never would have expected.
Wait and see.