Dig It Up!

This weekend I'll be doing some digging. Now while I have great appreciation for those of you who are gardeners and enjoy digging in the earth's soil, I'm not much for digging in dirt, planting things, or even keeping living things alive. I don't mind sweating, but I hate getting my hands dirty.

Unless I'm getting them dirty with something I'm about to eat -- pizza dough, cookie dough, etc.

photo credit and link

I realize I can wear gardening gloves, but I have bought a few pairs of said gloves in the past and that doesn't work for me either. I tend to pick out the cute little gloves with pink flowers or red ladybugs and a little bow at the cuff. Then I don't want to get them dirty either. So I end up handing my husband the pots, fetching tools he needs and assisting with putting the finished pot where it belongs. I might even use a cute little watering jar to water his work. But I try really hard to keep my cute little gloves and my hands clean and fresh.

I know, I have problems.

But since my husband is still recuperating from back surgery and can't lift heavy pots or bend over for long periods of time, I will need to dig up the old, dead plants that are in the planters on our back patio this weekend. Daughter Abby is hosting her Thespian club's spring induction reception in our backyard next Monday, so I will need to get things in better shape back there between now and then. Translation: I'll need to get rid of the dead stuff.

I'll have to get out a trowel and dig up the old plants by the roots. Then, as I've watched my husband do in the past, I'll save about half of the old soil (or a little less) and pour new soil in to be mixed with the old before planting anything new. I think I can handle the planting part, but I'm not looking forward to digging out the old roots. Ugh!

Digging up roots can take a lot of work, especially if the root you're trying to uproot is a root of bitterness. What's that? Do I have those planted in my backyard? Thankfully, no. But I've occasionally had to dig out a bitter root from my heart.

Today I read in the Bible:

The heart knows its own bitterness,
and a stranger does not share its joy.
(Proverbs 14:10)

As best I can interpret, this maxim simply means that you alone know what has taken root in your heart. Others can often see the fruit of what lies beneath the "soil line," but only you know if you have indeed allowed a nasty root of bitterness to take up residence in your heart.

And another more familiar scripture reminds us that when we do allow bitterness to sink its roots into our hearts, we have a problem on our hands.
See to it that ... no bitter root grows up 
to cause trouble and defile many. 
(Hebrews 12:15 partial)
The roses in my backyard have deep roots, but they produce lovely roses that my family and guests can enjoy. On the other hand, when bitterness takes root in our lives, it produces trouble and even "defiles" many of the people whose lives I touch. What does that mean? It simply means that my bitterness plant potentially taints, dirties, stinks up, and stains many other people - my family, my office, my church congregation, my friends, etc. I can tell myself that my bitterness only affects me, but that's just a lie from hell meant to lull me into foolish complacency. And to stink up my Christian testimony. And to bring down as many other people with my bitterness as Satan can possibly contrive.

So I'm asking myself today if I have allowed any bitterness to take root in my life. If I have, I need to uproot it immediately before it sinks its tendrils further into my heart. Because once those tendrils have wrapped themselves around my heart, it's even harder to remove them.

About a year ago we had to cut down our two trees. That's right, we had two trees in our little yard and now we have none. I didn't want to cut them down because they were pretty, they had grown large, and they were...our only two trees, for pete's sake. I begged and begged my husband not to take them down. But alas their roots had spread out toward our driveway and the sidewalk in front of our house. If we waited much longer, we would have buckling cement in both places. Those trees appeared harmlessly beautiful, but they were actually causing potentially huge problems below the surface.

So my husband had to hire someone to come in and cut down the trees and carefully dig up their sprawling roots. We couldn't do it ourselves, but it had to be done.

If you do find a root of bitterness growing rampant in your heart, you probably can't dig it up by yourself either. You'll need to call in a heart expert, one who can systematically and carefully disengage every tangled root of bitterness from your tender heart. He'll need to remove those angry, piercing roots and then apply a soothing balm to your heart so that another similar root doesn't take up residence. 

You know I'm talking about the Holy Spirit of God. He can help you diagnose your dangerous root system, reach beneath the soil line with expertise, and dig that baby out. And He alone can provide the healing ointment to your heart so that nothing else bitter moves in.

Friend, bitterness is deadly. It's not a harmless weed that we need not worry about until the neighborhood association alerts us. And it's not always simple to uproot. But it will kill. It will kill your joy, your testimony, your usefulness to the kingdom, and your zeal. And it can potentially take down other people in its path as well, leaving even more destruction than buckling cement in its path.

People around you may have gotten a whiff of something foul, but only you know if you've allowed a root of bitterness to grow in your heart. If you have, dig it up!