Blast from the past!

While our pastor was preaching this past sunday, I was reflecting on some issues in my own life. I hate when a good preacher makes you do that.

As a result, I wanted to write a blog that sounded a lot like a blog I had written almost exactly two years ago. After failing to rewrite my previously written thoughts, I’m reposting this post from September of 2011, but viewing it with fresh eyes. I hope you will, too.

It’s amazing how often illustrations for living the Overboard life are found in the most unexpected and unusual places. When I read the Bible, I love seeing how Jesus used water, bread, poor widows, fish, birds, money, boats, naked women caught in adultery and just about anything else to teach His disciples to live life out of the boat. A while back, I discovered lesson about the Overboard life from my back yard and a little skirmish I had with some Blackberry bushes. I wrote this a while ago and now seemed like a good time to share it with you.

[zoom in on author’s forehead as he enters trancelike state…he turns to the window and stares at a pile of cut-up and stomped-on brush…he clutches a bandaged finger…]

I spent the better part of two hours one morning last week, digging up some black berry bushes that have crossed over a barrier of which we had made a verbal agreement. I promised not to cut them down or poison them and they promised not to come past the fence line. Well wouldn’t you know it? apparently black berry bushes aren’t very good at keeping their word! During the fall and early spring, they moved into the SW corner of our yard so the battle was on.

blackberry bush

After two hours of cutting away and digging, I learned some very important lessons about removing black berry bushes.  #1, don’t try to cut or dig them out while wearing shorts. #2, don’t forget to wear THICK gloves. #3, along with #2, don’t grab the roots bare handed, they have nasty little hook shaped thorns down there, too. #4, when you forget rules #2 and #3, your kids will think it’s hilarious when you place your hand between your knees, start jumping up and down while screaming something about black berry bushes, the devil and the fires of hell. #5, chasing your kids with the pruners after said incident is not advisable when your neighbor is a police officer. It was a very educational morning.

I also, interestingly enough, learned something about how to remove black berry bushes (bbbs). In this corner where the bbbs had taken over, the plants probably covered close to 100 square feet of land (a little 10’x 10’ area on the back 40). Although this is a lot of space, there were only 10-12 actual bbb stalks to be found. The plants grow horizontally as much as they grow vertically. In fact, one of the stalks had popped up on my neighbors side of the fence so I hopped over in order to remove the offending beast. This is when I found the deepest, darkest secret of all.

All 10-12 stalks where attached to the same “runner” root. About a 1/2” below the surface of the ground, this little demon root snaked it’s way all over the place and every one of the 10-12 stalks was some how connected to this evil creature. As I uprooted part of the stalk from my neighbors yard, I pulled up a portion of the beast and saw it went to a little 3-4 stalk out cropping on my side of the fence. I pulled it up there only to find that it zigged and zagged itself to another 4-5 stalk out cropping and then finally to the last 3-4 stalk outcropping. Of course, it originated from the other side of our previously agreed upon boundary, so this demon root was cut down and poisoned (it was the only humane way to deal with him). That was one week ago.

Today, I go back out there and found out the demon root had spawned a few lesser demons who were venturing even further from the

mason-dixon line. They too have been exterminated (in my best Arnold Schwartzeneggar voice)

Sneaky devils.

As I sipped an ice cold coca cola (the preferred drink of bbb killers everywhere!) after a couple more hours of smiting creepy crawlers, I reflected on something rather fitting. Those stinkin’ bbbs are a lot like sin that we leave unconfessed in our lives. You know, those “little” sins that we just ignore or pretend that some how God doesn’t see or won’t care about, those ones that we like to put into our closet and leave for a later time? The problem is, like the pesky bbbs in my yard, those sins don’t stay hidden, they don’t remain in the closet and we certainly can’t control them. Soon, a sin that only pops up once-in-a-while, takes root underground and before we know it, our heart is covered and being choked out.

Getting rid of sin isn’t an easy task, either, but like my bbbs, we have to do it at the root. We have to go after the sin, digging it out with the diligence that only comes from intimacy with God, poisoning it with the power of the Word and then persist in keeping a watchful eye so that it’s evil cousins don’t try to take back soil we’ve cleared. And like my bbbs, we must be wary of seasons in which the sin hibernates as it strengthens it’s roots and spreads itself in subtlety.

Some of my favorite words of Scripture are found in Psalm 119:9-11. Those familiar words of David have helped me fight sin on more than one occasion: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word. I seek you with all my heart, do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” David knew about subtle sins that take root and then take over.  When he strolled across the rooftops of his palace in 2 Samuel 12, he knew he’d see some “sites”. That habit became a demon root that eventually led David to adultery, murder, cover up and horrible deceit. If the man after God’s own heart can lose ground, I better make sure I’m taking a double shot of God’s Word in my life and applying it’s truth to every root of sin that crops up.

Victory over sin is a lot like victory over bbbs. You’ve got to attack it aggressively and dig it out by the roots. Along the way, you’re going to get stung and you might even bleed. But after a little dance and a chasing of the kids around the back of the house, the yard looks a lot better and it’s a clean look that goes well below the surface.


[return to author…he returns his glance to the paper before him…he smiles]

God is calling all of us out of the boat and out to the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. He even uses devilishly annoying blackberry bushes to make His call heard. How has God taught you about the Overboard life using the world around you? If you feel brave enough, share your thoughts with us in the comments — I’d love to hear your insights!

Go ahead, take the plunge — life is better on the water!

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3 Responses to Blast from the past!

  1. kendra says:

    I remember seeing you fight with those bushes! LOL;) Such a perfect illustration of the sneaky roots of sin and how I have fallen in the past to those sins. A great reminder to stay diligent in walking so close w God and his Word each day. Feels hard in the moment but so worth it

  2. What a fantastic counterpart to the lesson that will be studied this afternoon in our building. We are studying the Vinedresser (Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson) and the care He takes to lift us out of the dust and tie us to the guides that help us grow in the right direction. I was thinking strongly about how berries and many other plants have to be guided and supported and constantly attended to keep them growing in the right direction, but how new shoots fall easily to the ground, even being buried in the dust, where they need to be rescue and disciplined in to fruitful vines. But, sure enough, those bbbs really get sneaky, growing underground in a hundred directions if not caught and removed.. What a tangle our lives can become without strict attention to the small things.

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