“Oh yeah, I know where that is! Say, who ever bought that abandoned house behind the church?”
Yeah, that would be us. (And yes, <<this is our driveway.)
Most of you rejoiced with us when we bought a house last year, but there’s something you didn’t know about this place we purchased.
From what we can tell, it was abandoned for about ten years. Well, it’s not fair to say “abandoned” when it was obviously heavily inhabited–by mice. We walked in to orange shag carpeting littered with nut shells, droppings of all sorts, and other interesting treasures. Sheets filled the linen closets, nicknacks littered the surfaces, and the pantry was stocked with pasta that expired in the 90s.
To be honest, it’s not the “hole” it sounds like. Everything was basically sound, structurally–just needed a good gutting. Which we did. Walls came down, insulation was replaced, carpet burned and replaced with hardwood.
But the part that fascinated me was the yard. It was like the secret garden, abandoned and full of interesting stories. There’s roughly 5.5 acres here, all wooded. The vines, however, are thicker than some of the trees! I’ve uncovered evidence of landscaping, but after ten years of neglect, the vines have nearly bled into the entire woods and covered every flowerbed.
This summer I tromped through the woods in awe, snapping pictures of the vines and tossing around every life-related analogy that came to mind–vines choking out the life of the trees, needing to pull them out at the roots, bearing no fruit or leaves, etc.
But one stuck out to me in my current situation. These vines are damaging, destructive, and powerful. And all it takes for them to take over is… nothing. Most other plants need help to thrive, but these flourish on neglect. Growing these things is as easy as looking the other way. Becoming busy with many other pressing things.
When my life is a series of interruptions, putting another little person above my needs, often putting off going to the bathroom, devotion time doesn’t come quite as easy. Sometimes a day will pass and I climb wearily into bed only to realize I haven’t read my Bible that day. The only prayers said were arrow prayers requesting strength or wisdom in the moment.
And I’m ashamed. Looking back on those days reminds me of looking out at my yard–vines have crept up when I put off the “daily bread” as one procrastinates weeding. I didn’t plant the things, didn’t think about them growing. I simply turned my back and went on answering all the other little tasks begging to be done. Not that I didn’t want to spend time in the Bible, but there are so many tasks demanding immediate attention–spilled water, dirty diapers, dogs running toward the street…
Ohhhh Facebook. You shall be the bane of all productivity.
I struggle with so many things on a daily basis, and they grow up like vines, curling around me if not whacked away every day. Bitterness, envy, irritation, worldliness all twist themselves around me when I’m not looking, crowding out the calm, kindness and wisdom God wants me to pour into my day.
I could easily go through every day without spending time with God. Without recharging my heart. I might accomplish a few things more, but I wouldn’t be the same person. Wouldn’t get through the day with nearly the same attitude or focus. And before you know it, the vines would have grown up around me and choked me out. I’d look at myself and think, what did I do to become this person?
And I’d have to answer–absolutely nothing.