I am currently digging up azalea bushes in our front yard. Since our hometown is known as "the Azalea City," this might be considered sacrilege to some local folks. However, Frances and I do not care for the shrub that blooms beautifully for two weeks, but then recedes into drab dullness for the remainder of the year. We plan to replace the plants with hydrangeas, a favorite that reminds me of my paternal grandmother's beautiful garden. Frances loves them also, so we're looking forward to blooms and beautiful foliage for years to come.
I share this because the process of removing old azalea bushes presents a challenge. Their roots run deep and cling tightly to the soil. A shovel, hoe, and occasionally even an ax are required to free the bushes from their home. Moreover, even when uprooted, pulling an old azalea bush rootball from the hole dug sometimes involves a strong rope and a truck with a secure bumper. I've done that before, although in recent years I've found ways to manually remove the plants. But it's not easy. In similar manner, the spiritual process of growth in the Lord Jesus Christ also requires God's ongoing work of rooting out thought processes, attitudes, and perspectives cherished by our flesh, but displeasing to God and harmful to us. "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults" prayed King David, a man who well knew that carnality can run deep and cling tightly in even godly believers (Psalm 19:12). Every Christian requires ongoing fellowship with the Lord for the purpose of uprooting the fleshly in order to replace it with the spiritual.
"Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Change will be required until we leave the current earthly realm in which we seek to walk with God amid enemies, including our own internal challenges. Like the Psalmist, we must seek the uprooting of "faults" that hinder our capacity to honor our Lord and minister to other people. We require His working to fulfill the process, along with our faith and submission to the promise that "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). I've thought about this in the last few days as deep and hidden roots secure plants I desire to remove. How might the Lord be working to spiritually accomplish the same necessary removal and replacement? The work continues by a faithful God who, as the saying goes, "loves us as we are, but also loves us too much to leave us the way we are."
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
(II Timothy 3:16)
"We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?"
Weekly Memory Verse
"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 2:5)