By Chaplain (Capt.) Phillip Redden
Special to GUIDON
“The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
— Luke 8:14
On my last day off from work, I engaged in one of my favorite past times — yardwork.
However, on this particular day I needed to clear away a few bushes and small tress on the back side of my yard that met with a wood line. What I thought was going to be a few hours of removal turned into a thorn-infested fiasco.
As I got into the tree line, I found myself in a thicket that had overrun the entire area. I tore my clothes, scratched my arms up and fought the entire day to only cut the thicket back enough to have three 10-foot piles of brush. Almost every tree had vines growing up it that branched off into huge leafy canopies.
For several hours, I contemplated the parable of the seed and sower found in Luke. The thorns had grown up through the bushes and around the trees so subtly that what appeared to be good healthy growth was actually weeds blocking the sun and inhibiting what we wanted. The vines had overtaken several trees and their leaves masked the bare limbs. The Lord impressed on my heart that “this is how weeds overtake someone’s life.”
When the worries of life become strong enough, they block you from the light, separating you from the spiritual source of life and growth.
When you look at yourself from a distance, you may appear to be healthy and full of growth, but when you get into the weeds, you find that there is more fear than faith in your life.
What a mess to fight through. It was no simple task removing unwanted thorns and vines that slowly made their way around everything. Fortunately, by getting right in the middle of the thicket, I was able to determine what needed to stay and what didn’t.
Maybe we can take a closer look at the individual elements that make up our lives rather than glossing over who we are as a whole.
Maybe we see leafy growth in our lives that looks good from a distance, but is actually the “riches and pleasures” that give us a false sense of growth.
A personal examination may be painful to work through, but well worth the effort when we come out of the thicket of anxiety and doubt.
(Editor’s note: Redden is the 5th Engineer Battalion chaplain.)