squash bugs. They lay their eggs on the leaves of squash plants. I use soapy water to remove the eggs before they have a chance to hatch. Sometimes I find eggs on the top of the leaves, which makes it easier to find and remove them.
However, sometimes the eggs are underneath the leaves, meaning that I have to search harder and longer before I find them. They are also usually very near the veins of the leaves, making it much more challenging to remove them, and sometimes I end up tearing the leaf slightly, leaving a mark on the plant.
I had been away from home for several days, which unfortunately means that there were many pests to deal with since I wasn't here to search the garden daily.
So while I was going through searching for these pests, God showed me an analogy:
I am a gardener searching the plants for pests.
God is the Gardener searching my heart for sin.
The eggs represent sin, the leaves represent my heart. The eggs planted on the leaves will eventually develop into pests that will destroy.
Eggs that are on the top of the leaves are easily spotted and removed.
Some sin in my heart is easily and quickly spotted, thus more easily removed.
Other sin lies deeper, or underneath the leaves of my heart, making it harder to be seen and thus more challenging to be removed. There are even times where sin is so deep that even after God removes it, there is a mark or scar left behind.
The soapy water represents the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If I apply them to my life, They will remove the sin from within me.
To be an effective gardener, I need to search on a daily basis. To be holy and righteous in God's eyes, He needs to search my heart on a daily basis. If I don't allow Him to do so, sin will accumulate, making it even more difficult later on to deal with.
When I was finally finished removing all of the eggs that I had found, I held the cup in my hand and saw the great number of potential pests that were now no longer a threat to my plants (I meant to take a picture, but forgot). I always flush the pests so that there is no possibility for any of them to resurrect. God reminded me that once I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)! He then tosses my sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) - out of sight, out of mind - just like when I flush the pests!
I was very grateful for God giving me this visual and I wanted to share it with someone right away. I called my kids (and our cousin who was visiting) to the garden. I had them search some of the plants that I had intentionally left undone. While they were searching I shared the above analogy with them. I knew that if I had only told them about it that they likely would not have listened well, but if they did their own search it would most likely stick with them.
There were a couple other things that God showed me. For one thing, there were several bees buzzing around while I was searching. I asked God if they represented the devil, since they were so annoying! However, He said that no, they are His workers and therefore represent other believers. Sometimes when we believers have unconfessed sin in our lives, other believers come across as annoying to us - especially if they are speaking truth to us and we don't want to hear it. They are, however, necessary in order to spread the truth and therefore produce more fruit. Just like the bees spread the pollen and help produce more plants.
Water is vital to the garden. However, if I water the garden at the wrong time of the day, it can actually do more harm than good. If I water during the heat of the day, it could possibly burn the plants, and of course most of the water would just dissipate before it had a chance to nourish. The Word of God is vital to the believer. However, if we use the Word of God at the wrong time or in the wrong way, it can do more harm than good. Yes the Word of God is a weapon, the Bible calls it a "sword", but we are never to use this is a weapon to harm others. 2 Timothy 2:15 says:
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
There was even more that God showed me, but I think I will save it for another post! I have been gardening for about four years now, and God continues to use this experience to teach me more about myself and about Him. I can't thank God enough for telling me to start this gardening endeavor; because of it I have grown in my faith and closer to my God!