The field of lush green grass caught my eye as our car turned onto the motorway.
“Wow! Matt, just look at that oval!” I exclaimed in amazement. “I don’t imagine it’ll be too long before you’re able to start a bit of training on it.”
Matt looked out the car window at the school’s new sports ground as we zipped past, and agreed. It was indeed looking very good, as were the new classrooms and other facilities.
“Mr. Robbins said it’ll be a little while yet,” Matthew explained. “But not too much longer.”
I knew that my son was intensely looking forward to when he would be able to practice running on the oval at lunchtime or after school, especially with the annual cross-country race only months away. Somehow or other Matt had inherited some sort of mutant gene which caused him to find absolute joy in running over long distances. He wasn’t a sprinter (although no one could ever catch him when he played “tips”) and he wasn’t even all that interested in the slightly longer races. For him it was the sheer pleasure of overcoming the pain to make it to the finish in any type of long distance endurance race.
Kylie (a non-runner from way back) just shakes her head in disbelief at her brother's enthusiasm for what she considers to be one of the most torturous events on the school calendar. In fact, Kylie and I are both positive that the cross-country was deliberately designed and enforced by sadistic educators to inflict as much pain as possible on unfit students. If that was their aim, then I can definitely say that they achieved their goal, at least as far as I was concerned.
Even though I’ll probably never understand the pleasure Matt derives from pushing himself to the limit in this way, I do actually applaud him for his attitude and definitely appreciate how valuable the new oval will be to him.
When they began digging the ground for this new field at the end of last year, it was the first step toward the dream that the school had held for so long. Now, just a few months later, the reality of that vision was close at hand. After all the planning and hard work, the goal was almost in sight. The tender care of the turf over recent weeks had definitely produced wonderful results.
As we continued on our way home that afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of another new oval in our area and compare the two projects. At almost exactly the same time as the school had started work on their dream field, the local council had begun work on one of their own.
When I first saw the machines digging out the land in our neighbouring suburb, I was quite intrigued.
Was it going to be a new land release? Or perhaps another shopping center? Or maybe even a much needed petrol station?
Then came the wishful thinking.
Maybe, just maybe, it might be a public swimming pool.
Finally, it was Steve who brought my imaginings to an end when he pointed out that it was obvious they were building another sports field.
Now even though I was very happy to see the new oval coming to life at the school, I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about this other Council built one. After all, in both the neighbouring suburb and our own, there are a plethora of parks and sport grounds. To me, it seemed a little like overkill, but then I’m not really the most athletic minded person on the planet. Not by a long shot!
As the weeks passed by, the excavation work on both ovals ceased and turf was laid for the new fields. Up to that point, both the school and the council had been doing exactly the same things. Then came the separation of the ways.
While the school continued to carefully nurture the new lawn in their sports ground and made sure that it was kept well watered, the council workers basically brushed the dirt from their hands and left the other oval to survive on its own.
The results of these two different attitudes toward the care of what were, in both cases, quite valuable investments, didn’t become apparent straight away. However, it wasn’t all that long before the consequences became very obvious.
As the school’s prize continued to flourish and grow, the Council site was looking very much the worse for wear. As the grass struggled to survive through the summer heat without any human intervention, it became weak and unable to choke out the weeds that had started to invade. By the time I noticed how wonderful the school’s future athletics ground was looking, the council one was in a terrible state of neglect.
It had only been three months, but what a difference a little bit of care and attention can make! As obvious as it seems, the truth of what happened to the two ovals is found in the wisdom of Solomon:
The School understood that they had everything to gain from ensuring that their new field was nurtured and cared for. They had a dream of what that ground would do for the students for years to come and they were more than willing to do whatever was needed so that when the time was right, everyone would “eat its fruit”.
In the case of the Council, the opposite was true. By not being wise stewards of the land they’d developed, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to enjoy it for quite some time. At least, not until a lot of work is done to bring it up to the standard that it should have reached by now.
In the same way, God has entrusted our lives to us and He expects us to take good care of them.
When we neglect our Christian walk, it doesn’t take very long for the “weeds” to start springing up and possibly even seem to overrun us. At times like that, we may feel as though it’s impossible to ever bring our lives back to that place in time where the soil of our heart was well prepared and all the best seed had been planted. But thankfully that isn’t so.
The warning Christ gave to the church in Ephesus when the weeds started to spring up in their midst, included a very effective “weed killer”:
Whenever we can’t see the fruit for the weeds in our lives, then we should remember to take the same advice and turn our repentant hearts back to the One who is our first love.
If we take care to always nurture our spiritual life by putting God first and living according to His will, then He'll be faithful to take care of the rest. Then we can be sure that our lives will be exactly as they were intended to be - with no weeds allowed!
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