Today, I was feeling rather ambitious and decided to rake the back yard. Mind you by back yard is more of a hard incline than a yard so it hasn't been raked much. As far as I know, it never has been in the 5 years we have lived here. Sad, I know. Would you want to rake a uphill?
As I began raking, I could smell the decay of rotting pine straw. Underneath all the pine straw, fallen branches, and twigs was the darkest soil - rich and fertile. Also as I raked, I noticed the roughness and dangerousness of the terrain. My kids have been playing on this mountainous like rise without fear. They could have been hurt by something hiding under the compost of straw, leaves, pine cones, and branches.
It makes me wonder what is hiding under the leaves and straw of our lives. Is there something dangerous hiding that could cause hurt and pain to another? Is there something undealt with in our lives that could be a potential danger to our loved ones and those we minister to?
My raking the yard showed me that underneath the surface of our lives, we have treacherous terrain. As we navigate through life, things of this world pile up on us. People wound us and we move on thinking we are okay, but we have just buried the problem without dealing with it. The wounds cause our hearts to become rough and buckled. We react to others in a snappy, rude, judgmental, critical attitude. Things may look harmless when covered by layers upon layers of trash and spiritual masks. Deep down there are wounds and scars that we have not allowed God to heal. We pitch fits to get our way and bully others into submitting to our desires. We point fingers at where they are missing the mark, but never seeing where we ourselves have gotten off track.
How after, we criticize others for their reactions or their lives don't measure up to our standards. The Word should be the standard for their lives and our own. It is not our place to say one person is not able to be used of the Lord because we don't agree with their walk. We are to work out our OWN salvation with fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12). We as Christians should take a good look at our own lives and hearts. It's easy to sit back on the pew Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday and see the faults in others without first removing the debris from our own lives. The Bible says in Matthew 7:3, "Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother's eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye?" (AMP)
Hear the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
"Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting."
The Amplified states verse 5 like this:
"It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]."Did you catch that? Love is "not self-seeking". When we criticize another based on our own standards, we are being self-seeking. If we are truly walking in love, then we will see through the eyes of love and see the second thing I saw in my yard.
The second thing I found while raking was rich soil underneath the pine straw. The rich soil of our lives in contrast to the terrain is the Word we have allowed to soak deep within us. That good part of our lives that is so hidden by outward displays. The outward is all most people ever see. It's easy to find fault when all you see is life's debris on a person. After all is swept away, we can really see what a person really is. There is an inward work going on in each and every one of us. We must be willing to be raked over by the Holy Ghost so that those things that should not be in our lives to be removed. There is fertile ground in each of us. What we plant there is up to us. Plant good things in each other and you will reap the good in yourself. Philippians 2:3 states, " Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves". (KJV)
All of this from raking my back yard. God works in mysterious ways. This one thing I take away from my outside activity, we will only be able to help others when we first rake our own yard.