When we moved into the house we are currently living in, there was a very large oak tree that leaned over our new home; specifically, our children’s bedrooms. Because the tree seemed healthy and strong, we did not have any intention of removing it right away. However, after our first storm experience, our opinions changed rather quickly.
What happened was, in the dead silence of the night, if we heard any rain or thunder come on suddenly, all we could think about was a limb breaking off the tree or it being split by lightning and crushing our children. With that terror in mind, we called a few tree services companies, received quotes, and hired who we felt was the best service provider to remove that massive tree and a couple of others in the yard.
Like all good tree service companies, they came in, prepared the area, fell the tree, and then stump grinded the massive root system it left behind. When they were done the site looked beautiful, open, and we could sleep soundly again knowing our children were safe.
After a few weeks, we installed a shed right over the site where that old oak tree was. Between the fence line and shed was about 3’; just enough to get a push lawnmower through easily to maintain it. Over time though, we began to neglect this area of the yard since it was so remote. Every once and a while we’d go back there, see some small weeds growing up, and think, “We need to come back here and weed/mow this.” Who has the time though, right? Well, weeks turned into months, months into years, and small weeds turned into a 14’ high tree with about a 10” thick base. Fast forward now to about a month ago.
We decided to make some changes to our yard. We were going to sell the shed, move everything in it into the garage, replace the fence completely, add a 10’ gate, and then landscape the back yard. So, we had the plan, now we act.
- First, I had my son and his friend move everything from the shed into our garage while I organized it. Done!
- Second, I posted the shed online and sold it in less than 15 minutes to a great guy in the military. Easy!
- Third, I took down the existing fence, so we could access the shed easily. No problem!
- Fourth, it was time to move the shed and load it on a trailer. Problem.
Our problem? It wasn’t disassembling the shed or loading it on the trailer. It was that years of neglect to those small weeds created a real obstacle right in the way of the progress we were now trying to make. As with all problems though, there are solutions. Ours at that moment was to grab a saw my new friend had in his truck, cut down the tree as low as we could to the ground, and keep moving forward. In less than two minutes the tree was down, we dragged it out of the way, and began loading his trailer and vehicle. Done!
So now we have a clear site, no fence, and a vision of what we are trying to accomplish. Easy, right?
Wrong! You see, directly in the middle of the path of where the new fence and gate was to be now stood an ugly, inconvenient tree stump. So, what are our options?
- One, I could hire someone to stump grind the spot again but that would be expensive for one stump.
- Two, we could rent a stump grinder and do it ourselves. Again though, expensive for a single stump.
- Three, I could grab an ax and shovel and cut it out by hand.
Not being afraid of a little hard work and wanting to save money, I choose option 3 as the best solution to the problem. What I came to learn though will hopefully benefit us all.
Lesson 1: Slack Today, Pay Tomorrow
First, I learned that those little weeds that we allowed in our life, grew into a thick and wide network of roots just under the surface. By taking the shovel and digging back the soil, I learned that the root system ran about 8’ wide in every direction. So with great effort I dug around the tree stump to get a good feel for what I was dealing with. Then, one by one I began to chop the roots as I walked in a circle. A laborious task that could have been so easily avoided if I just pulled the small weeds out of my life years ago. By slacking off and not pulling out the weeds as soon as we saw them as harmful, an easy and painless task turned into a massive and exhausting ordeal just a few years later.1
Lesson 2: What grows up, goes straight down to the heart
Second, I learned painfully that even after I cut off every horizontal root bringing that tree-like weed nutrients, the stump still wouldn’t budge. What happened was, like all weeds in our lives the problem didn’t just grow where we could see it, or even spread out from the source, but when I did a little digging I realized the scary truth that the root system grew straight down vertically into the earth. To remove this stump, I now had to not only dig around the unwanted lump of wood, but also had to chop wood with a dull ax about two feet under the surface of the stump to cut it off from its life-giving source.2
Lesson 3: I Can’t Remove it Alone
After about an hour of hard labor in the hot Pensacola sun I was exhausted. I dug, chopped, pulled, kicked, and even twisted this stump to come free, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t remove that stump alone. Not only was I too weak to take on such a powerful problem alone, but even if I was able to remove it, I knew that there would always be seeds and roots in there that could grow back at any time when I wasn’t expecting it. And all because I allowed the problem to go so far and make a stronghold in my life. So now I wasn’t just physically exhausted, but mentally discouraged and emotionally disappointed as well. All I could hear in my head were statements like, “Give up.” “It’s not worth it.” “Let someone else deal with it.” “You have more important things to do.” “What’s the big deal? It’s just a stump. Let it be and rest a little. You can take care of it later.” With these untrue, negative statements swarming my tired and vulnerable mind and body, that’s when I finally realized I can’t remove this stump alone.3
You see, all of us, for many different reasons, allow the “weeds” in our lives to run freely at times and grow strong roots and take control of us. Maybe we enjoy them at first. Maybe we think we’re just too busy to deal with them at that time. Or maybe we don’t take the presence of them seriously enough. In the end though, we are either overcome by them or need to surrender ourselves and get help to properly remove them. If not, they will just grow back.4
At that moment I saw the bigger picture that God was trying to show me and right there on the spot stopped, prayed, and surrendered the situation and mess that I caused to Him.
Even though problems in life seem so big when we are stuck in the moment, as soon as I finished praying and put my trust back in God I realized that there was no way I could remove ever the stump in my strength alone. Through His strength though I knew I could. So I grabbed that ax, aimed right at the heart of the problem (the center root as low I as could see), and swung it with everything I had. Dirt flew, wood chips went everywhere, and a deep thump sounded as my ax stuck deep in the earth. Yes, it really happened! As soon as I asked God for His help, while giving it my best, results happened! Even though I saw the problem, allowed it the fester, and was the only one to blame, God showed me grace and came to my rescue.5
Now while some of you are reading this and thinking, “Wow, you removed a stump. Big deal.” Please realize that all our problems in life are just like this stump. We know what the right things to do in life are. We often neglect our part for whatever reason. The issue grows deeper than we ever thought possible and takes control of us. And by the time we realize what is going on and finally try to fight back, it’s too late. We’re exhausted and can’t fight any more on our own. With God though, He strengthens us, gives us hope, sharpens our axes, weakens the problems in our lives, and allows us to be victorious through Him.6
We all need to look for those small weeds in our lives and remove them now before they become a big problem. If we have a big problem already, we need to realize we can’t remove it on our own and need God’s help. He will give us the strength to be victorious, even when we think it’s impossible. It may be on our own through Christ, through the provision of the right tools, 7 or through the unexpected help from others, but no matter how He provides, God will give you the victory if you go to Him for help and give Him your best (at that time).
Hope this article helps you grow and not the weeds in your life. If you need help, contact us and we’ll do everything we can to help you grow through Christ and defeat all those nasty weeds and ugly stumps in your life!8
Sincerely in Christ,
Truth’s from above to continue your study9:
- 1 Galatians 6:7-8
- 2 Proverbs 4:23
- 3 John 15:5
- 4 Matthew 13:18-23
- 5 Luke 1:37
- 6 Philippians 4:13
- 7 Philippians 4:19
- 8 Proverbs 27:17
- 9 2 Timothy 2:15