A Thousand Needles in a Haystack


Pulling weeds is a thankless task, even if your wife says, “Thank you.” It’s down on your knees, back bent, burrowing down into the soil to find the end of a never-ending root. It’s worse than finding a needle in a haystack because after you find that needle, you don’t have to look any more. Weeding is like looking for a thousand needles.

When you’re weeding, you have plenty of time to think—mostly about how much you hate what you’re doing and how you’d rather be frolicking in the grass, jogging down the street or riding your bike. Even scrubbing the toilet sounded more appealing if I were to choose a similar physical position for unsavory work.

But today I chose to think more deeply about weeding—and my soul. And how it was a nice metaphor. You see, about halfway through weeding, I grew frustrated. I knew that if I didn’t dig out the roots, those pesky weeds would return soon. But I was tired of it. I just wanted to throw mulch on top of it, cover it up. From the sidewalk, it would look spectacular. No one would ever need to know what was beneath the surface.

It’s how I feel about the due diligence necessary to tend my soul. I look at the sinful weeds marring what once looked like a well-tended garden of my soul – and I don’t want to do the work to get them out. It’s tedious. Thankless. Tiring. And results take a long time to see. It’s much easier to just throw some Christian happy-face mulch on top and call it a day. Who would know the difference?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23)

Instead of daily weeding, I prefer to do reconstructive surgery. It’s debilitating. It’s a month-long stay, not an outpatient procedure.

Weeding isn’t so bad if you do it every day. Five or ten minutes of inspecting the soil and your garden looks fantastic – both on the surface and underneath. But letting it wane means a much more arduous task.

That’s why I want to take Solomon’s words to heart. I need to guard my heart, being ever vigilant to identify those things that are rooting out the fruit in my life. I don’t want to just cover them up, either. I want to eliminate them. I don’t want to look for a thousand needles in a haystack. I want to recline on a bail of hay, confident that my attention to detail will result in something much easier to manage—and something that isn’t merely a façade but a genuine reflection of what’s in my heart.

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