The first of this summer Anna and Terry went out to Idaho to The Elijah House. They went through a two week intensive focusing on heart level issues. The tag for this is “Fruits & Roots”. The concept is so simple and so absolutely profound. If you have something in your life that seems bad, it is because of a bad root. Jesus addresses the issue here.
Matt. 7:17-19 ….every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. nkjv
The concept is so simple we read right past it expecting something more appealing to our ego. I’m talking to every one here; the one who has never been in church and the one, like myself, who has spent more than a half century there. The scriptural language quoting Jesus is crystal clear. “Every good tree . . .” as well as “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit”. It just cannot. That’s all there is to say.
So, why is there bad fruit? There’s a bad root. That’s it. No escape from this bottom line. There’s a more sophisticated label for all of this. I’m talking about sanctification here. I’m talking about heart-level spiritual reality. The thing is, the Lord Jesus is asking us all to get this dealt with right now. Why? I don’t know, but it feels like preparation for something just ahead; something significant that will not allow anyone unprepared to pass ahead. This gut-check is reality and not something to just pass over and act like there’s nothing there. This is a life-and-death success-and-failure issue. The scripture above concludes like this, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” I don’t see any wriggle room, any way around this, except we can choose to be blind and deaf and continue walking like we have before. Do you see? Please see this right now.
I mean, like I said before, I’m more than 50 years into this life as a Christian and when Anna & Terry came back with this message I said, Oh crap! But, I heard the Lord say this was him and what was I going to do? I’ll tell you what, I looked and sure enough there was bad fruit stemming from a bad root in my life.
I wear many hats, but one that I’ve worn a long time is I am a gardener. This goes back to my father and me planting vegetables in our back yard. I ran the tiller and did the grunt work and he laid it all out and led me through the process from tilling to harvest. I also learned to love plants of all kinds; flowers, shrubs, trees. Eventually I took the Master Gardener course and completed it. At our current house we have a wonderful garden made up of a series of flower beds arranged around the house. My dear wife, Gwen, and house-mate, Vivien, love to set out the young flowering plants in the spring. After the heat kicks in, though, it is rare to see either one of them out pulling weeds. I’ve worked at mulching and composting so that the opportunity for weeds is minimal, but you know what, those things are incredible. They find a way to come up no matter what. If something is left untended for a couple of weeks, BAM! You have weeds challenging the flowers for space. Let them grow for many days and they establish a root system that will not yield without a serious mechanical assist. I use a pick at this point to loosen their hold. I’m talking about a tool usually associated with busting up hard ground; something that can be swung with two hands and make a definite impression. I use this tool much more carefully around flowering plants. If I don’t use something like the pick and I just grab the top of the weed, I will get most everything above ground, but that root stays there and waits until I walk away to send up more green and grab a stronger hold—laughing at me the whole time.
Apply this to your life. It is time. This is what the Lord said loud and clear to us this summer. Amazing that it came right at the time the weeds in the garden were making their first big push. I’ve been out there in the heat with my pick and wheelbarrow many times already. I’ve pulled load after load of grass and weeds that didn’t belong among the flowers. I’d like to say, everything is perfect, but it isn’t. A week ago on one of those high-90 degree afternoons in August, I was out in the hedges getting after some well established weeds and a photographer from the local newspaper stopped. He took my photo as I was bent over extracting a huge clump of grass from our boxwood in front of the house. There’s no denying it now. The whole town knows I have weeds, lots of weeds. There’s work to do. Get to work on yourselves. This is not just a beautification project. I’m talking about being found by the Lord to be producing good fruit when he comes by. Oh, how I want to be ready! I don’t want to miss what’s coming because of my inattention to my heart. I don’t want to be left for the fire. I don’t want you to, either.
Just this past Sunday as I was getting ready for the official service, I received a text from a friend who I’ve known for more than a decade. In all that time I never received anything like this from him. He sent a prayer credited to A.W. Tozer. Read this and realize my friend has heard the same message from the Lord. It is put in different language, but this is confirmation of what I said above.
Our Father in heaven, liberate me from myself and make me aware of the gulf between Thee and me. Lead me down the path to right that which is wrong and lead me into the way of reformation. I need a great move in my heart of the blessed Holy Spirit. Restore the fragrance of Thy presence. Amen.
ps. this past summer while our whole gang were employed weeding, the Lord sent a woman by who saw us, stopped, and inquired if we needed help. It turns out, she was experienced with weeding and plants having spent years working at a Garden Center and could name each plant correctly. She worked with us on these weeds the whole growing season. Our plants have never been more weed free and happy. After a few days, we realized she was basically homeless. Homeless, she may be, but she was an angel sent from the Lord to help us. It was simply too good to be happenstance.