Thursday, October 02, 2008

Looking for Weeds but Missing the Flowers

A story from Yancey's book, Prayer, has stayed in my mind.  I don't know if I will use it in my prayer series, but wanted to share it with you.

When I moved to Colorado I soon learned about noxious weeds.  Unwelcome species such as dandelion, oxeye daisy, Russian thistle, and toadflax are spreading like botanical viruses in my part of the state, threatening the survival of native species.  Wanting to be a good citizen, I bought a hardy weed-puller and began a routine I have kept up through each spring and summer.  I take an afternoon walk on the hill behind my home in search of the noxious invaders.  As it happens, that walk presents an ideal opportunity for prayer.  For a few minutes in the middle of the day I am alone in the beauty of nature, and away from the distractions of my home office.

One day when my wife accompanied me I had an epiphany about my weed walks and also my prayers.  Her keen eyes helped in the process of spotting weeds, yes, but more importantly she changed the entire nature of the walk by pointing out more than twenty species of wildflowers.  I had been so intent on finding the weeds that my eyes had skipped right past the wildflowers adorning the hills -- the very flowers my weed-pulling endeavored to protect!

It occurred to me that I do something similar in my prayer practice.  I tend to bring a tangled mess of problems to God, not unlike the snarl of weeds I carry home in my collection bag, while overlooking opportunities for praise and thanksgiving.  My prayers are essentially selfish, an effort to employ God to help me accomplish my ends.  I look on God as a problem-solver (a weed-puller) while overlooking the striking evidence of God's work all around me.  And when nothing much seems to happen, I grow impatient.

Thanks for the great illustration, Philip.  I do not want to be the type person that is so focused on the weeds that I overlook "the striking evidence of God's work all around me."    

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Great thoughts. I'm too often caught in the weeds to see the flowers.