One thing I love to do with my daughter, no matter the time of year, is to go outside. Riding bikes, hiking, exploring parts of our wooded neighborhood or just getting our hands dirty in our own yard. Recently, I’ve started to give my daughter, Navy, money for the time she spends pulling weeds. Although she would prefer playing with her Barbies, my 9-year-old will do it for a couple of bucks.
As a parent, I’m always looking for ways to fuse the normal day-to-day tasks or observations with a spiritual truth from God’s Word. As the world turns to summer green plants and trees come back to life from their dormant state to all kinds of color and vibrance. Just like Jesus did by conquering death on the cross. Bringing back to life what once was dead.
Do you know what this is?
Other than an unkempt mound…What you see here are Oregon Grape Hollies. They grow to about 3 to 4 feet tall and have hard prickly leaves. They will produce gorgeous blue berries and blossoms. Their leaves are not just pretty to look at but also a defender against moles and squirrels because of their spikes. And right in-between, can you see it? Yes, that’s a weed. No, it’s not a new Oregon Grape Holly!
I had to call our gardener and landscaper, Stephanie, who happens to have a degree in horticulture, and asked her what is going on here?
And here? Look closely…
I was just out here 3 days ago viewing this exquisite Vinca in all its glory and color and now I see dandelions and clover! I didn’t plant that! And it looks so much like the plant! If I hadn’t leaned in, I may have missed it.
Our insightful landscaper explained that in nature there is a phenomenon called mimicry. You might otherwise call it the plant’s arch nemesis, enemy, intruder! It’s leaves even produce a scent like that of its “twin” but in and of itself provides no nutrients, but poses itself as the real deal.
I needed to know more! Why would something so beautiful have almost an evil counter-part? Why do the tall plants have tall weeds and the small ground coverings have smaller weeds while resembling each other?
In the book of John, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is Truth?”
Earlier in Luke, Jesus explains, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.” So, Pilate leans in more and pushes Jesus and demands almost, “Are you King of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say. I am a King in fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on this side of truth listen to me.” And Pilate retorts, “What is truth?”
I’m pondering now how can I put what Navy and I have picked from the yard and put it into almost parable-like proportions? I asked Stephanie some more questions? What is the purpose of mimicry and why does it happen? She said the weed’s seedlings even look like that of the plants. They will grow simultaneously with the plant but will compete for nutrients and space and eventually proliferation…or dominance. A lot of seasoned gardeners will almost mistake even the very roots of the weeds for that of the plants.
What did Pilate need to know that he already didn’t know? What do we know about Pilate? Why was Jesus even brought before Pilate in the first place? Why did Jesus’s own people disown Him? What was Pilate running from? How? What did Pilate have to lose by taking Jesus at His word? Was the substitute of the truth worth believing?
These are all great questions, but there’s more. The more time and conversation you can have with your own child will lend itself hopefully to further delve into the scriptures. Each gospel account tells us more and at different angles.
I took these questions and extrapolated them. What was more important to Pilate? How often do we get pressured to not just tell a lie, but believe one over the truth? Do you see this in our world? Culture? School? Friendships? How? This is a perfect backdrop to discuss what we do to cover our own lies if we too are being deceived. What does Satan do to lure us into a lie? Or as my preacher says, “hides the bait?”
There’s a famous scene in a movie, “A Few Good Men.” (I’ve only seen the tv version so not sure about language) that is super dramatic. A commander in the United States Marines takes the stand in a courtroom. And Tom Cruise, who plays the prosecuting attorney yells, “I want answers. I want the truth.” And Colonel Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) empathetically says, “You can’t handle the truth.” And then, proceeds to tell on himself. And ultimately, the truth comes out and the men are acquitted of murder.
There is only ONE that can handle the truth.
He is the ONE who willingly laid down His life for this truth…that we are sinners in need of a Savior.
Only ONE who is worthy to call Himself the Way the Truth and the Life. No imitations will do. If a weed dominates a patch, there will be no life-giving plant around. Even the growth that comes out of the weeds can produce parasites that kill anything that eats of its fruit. What needs to get pulled from your garden? What lies are taking over the truth, not your truth, but THE TRUTH? And when it is a matter of life or death, will you continue to be deceived or walk in the truth? The real plant will produce real nutrients and roots that produce more of its kind. A weed’s only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy? Does that sound like anyone you know? Can you handle the truths Jesus teaches and live by them in confidence or will you cower when an imitation comes along?
Take time to see the things around you and your daughter. Ask God to teach you how to apply these truths. You will be surprised how simple and easy it is.