I don’t remember what the focus of the church conference was. I went with a longtime friend I hadn’t seen for quite a while.
We were retreating from the “dailiness” of life (or at least I was) for a long weekend in a beautiful setting in North Carolina.
My plan for this trip was rest, relaxation, and catching up with a good friend. I was not anticipating any spiritual enlightenment or guidance. All I wanted to do was get away. But one of the speakers offered up a thought for consideration that lingered in my mind.
We were asked to question what might be standing between us and our relationship with Christ. Were we putting our families first? Our vocations?
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I would eventually come up with some sort of answer because no one is perfect — right? This lingering thought took a backseat and I laid down for a nap.
I might not have been fully asleep when the image of a flowerpot clearly came to mind. There was a single, big leafy plant in the pot. It was huge, much too big for the pot it was in.
There was absolutely no room in the pot for any other plant to grow and I could see that the plant, a weed, was completely root-bound.
I had houseplants, and I knew what was involved in removing such a totally root-bound plant. First, if you can get it out intact, there is no soil left in the pot. Even worse, sometimes the pot itself is compromised. It can have hairline cracks and the pot might be destroyed.
Much as the image had just come to mind unbidden, the explanation was also suddenly clear to me.
What stood in the way of my relationship with Christ was the “weed” of my selfish pride. I was shocked by my blindness to such an obvious obstruction and was horrified by how everything in my life was entangled in the roots of my selfishness.
I couldn’t imagine how to pull that “weed” without destroying my “self.” In that instant, that’s exactly how intrinsic my pride and my selfishness appeared to be to my identity. Would there be anything at all left of “me” if that weed were uprooted?
Just as the panic began to rise, a calm came over me. I could never pull that weed. It was impossible for me.
I knew with an undeniable certainty that I wasn’t being asked to do anything except acknowledge the truth of my dependence upon God’s mercy and grace.
I rose from my nap strangely refreshed. Awakened. Not anxious or fearful; not ashamed or condemned, but confident that he who began a good work in me would perfect it. The truth is that God is still pulling the tendrils of that weed’s roots from this clay vessel.
It’s going to take a lifetime, but I’m trusting the project will be completed according to his loving plan.
Anne Krause, one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.