A while ago, I wrote about a bush in my backyard that I pruned to be shaped like a heart, a bush which became sort of a metaphor for my heart. You can read that post here.
I’ve learned another lesson from my heart bush that I wanted to share with you.
Over the winter, the bush stayed very nicely-shaped, because there was no new growth on it. I kept checking it every week or so, to be sure it didn’t need any pruning. Then, almost overnight, it seemed to get new life again! I glanced at it and saw that its dark green leaves had turned a fresh, vibrant yellow-green, and little new shoots were sprouting out. How exciting to see my heart start to grow again! And because I had been paying attention to it this winter, I was able to immediately clip off the little bits of new growth that misshaped it, keeping it perfect as it grew.
This lesson from the heart bush is about alertness. If I had not paid attention, my heart bush could have easily, quickly been overgrown with things that ruined its shape, that kept it from being what it is intended to be. In the same way, I need to pay attention to my own heart. Sometimes, life gets easy. There aren’t as many trials that mean the only thing I can do is rely wholly upon God, so I start becoming lazy and neglecting my relationship with Him. That is when sin and temptation slip in, little by little, until suddenly, I’m miles away from the Lord.
God warns us about this. Over and over, we are exhorted to “be self-controlled and alert” (1 Peter 5:8).
Maybe it’s just here in America, maybe it’s in a lot of the world, but we tend to forget that there is a spiritual war going on all the time. Instead of joining in the fight as warriors of God clothed with His full armor (cf. Eph. 6), we sit back and focus on what we can see, rather than what is real that we can’t see. We leave ourselves wide open to assault by the “spiritual forces of evil” simply by lowering our guard as we sit back and watching TV, go to a movie, do some mindless activity, turn immediately to other people rather than God, etc.
Brothers and Sisters, we don’t have to slip away from God. We can resist temptation, standing firm in the power of Christ. “His [the Lord’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3; emphasis mine).
Let us be alert. If we notice a sin creeping into our hearts, let us turn to God to cut it out before it becomes a sin pattern, before it is a huge branch that takes a chainsaw to cut off, rather than little pruning sheers.