Yesterday I was working in my flowerbed (for about 10 hours…) and came up with an illustration. I wrote it out for Dana and thought I would share it here.
So, yesterday as I was working, I came up with an illustration of what a stronghold is. I don’t know how well this will work writing it out, I feel like I talk better than I write… But anyways, so I was actually working through the dirt, under the surface, which a lot of gardeners don’t do, and like, you come across these clumps of roots, and from experience I know what roots belong to different plants. So, I know which are the good ones and which are the bad ones, and one reason that my flowerbed is so weedless is because when I’m working in the dirt I ALWAYS pick out the bad roots and toss them. But then I got towards the back of the flowerbed, where I don’t work as often, and some of the roots were really thick, so I pulled out the clumps, but there were still bits of roots left. So this is what I realized.
Sometimes there’s things that take root, through a little seed here or a little plant there, and it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Some things get pulled out, but others get left. At first, we barely notice, but then it starts to not look that good so we start to pull the weeds (the things above the surface that are noticeable). What we don’t realize, though, is that under the surface there are roots forming, and so it seems that while we’re pulling so many weeds, the more we pull the more that come up. And so, what we need is to have the dirt completely turned over, to have what’s inside revealed, and pick through keeping the good and tossing the bad. And what I realized is that those roots that build up over time are like strongholds, and we can have divine strongholds and evil strongholds. They start with an unchecked thought here, or a bad attitude there, and then they become a way of thinking, they become ingrained, and if they go unchecked they will soon take root and create a clump, so that when one little weed is pulled it doesn’t even begin to reach the problem. Once the stronghold is established, then, it’s not enough to turn the surface and pull out the roots, because there are so many little pieces of it that we can’t possibly get it all out at once, so what it takes is the removal of as much as possible, and then every time a weed appears we must once again turn the surface, look inside, and find the root of it, pulling out as much as possible, and with much care and precision and work, overtime the stronghold will disappear.
Another side to it is that when there are good roots put in a place where the bad ones are being pulled out, they choke out the bad. So if we are careful to add good in the places where we are pulling out the bad, while also pulling out the bad, we will create strongholds of good thoughts and attitudes.
This should be our desire in working with children. We should be quick to point out to them, not their wrong actions or behaviors, but instead their wrong ways of thinking and feeling. If we were to get less annoyed with their unsightly weeds and instead be more concerned with their wrong beliefs and attitudes we would be much more loving, caring, and nurturing in the way that we treat them, much more understanding when they do wrong, and see much more fruit in their growth. We should become less concerned about weed control (controlling the actions) and much more concerned with root control (changing beliefs and attitudes, pulling out the harmful and planting the good) so that our children (and us) may become places of divine strongholds in our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs, and then when the summer comes and the plants are all up, we will see the fruit of the Spirit rather than the fruit of the flesh and we will be able to use our time to harvest rather than constantly tiring ourselves in the useless and fruitless pulling of weeds.