Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Smell of Dirt

Confession:  We skipped church today.

And yet, we found God in the garden.  Somehow, He always seems to makes Himself known there to me.  Have you met Him there, too?

It seems like in our society, dirt has become a bad thing.

Here's some dirt on her.
He's a dirty, rotten scoundrel.
I wouldn't want to get my hands dirty in that.
But today, as I cleaned out my garden, as I got my hands dirty, I smelled the dirt.  It was fresh.  As I turned it over and over in my hands and shook it out from the clasp of the roots of weeds, all I could smell was life.  As I looked over my poor, pitiful vegetable garden, or rather, what remained there, I realized that in this case, it wasn't the dirt that was bad, but rather my own neglect, my willingness to let weeds take over instead of tending the dirt.

At the other end of the yard, my daughter calls over to me.  I need some help, she says.  She had dutifully been pulling little clovers out of the grass.  It looks like your are doing just fine by yourself, I say.  But it's better with two people, she retorts, and really, how can I argue with that?  Pulling weeds is never fun, but perhaps having company makes it more bearable.

And then I think about sin as weeds and how we often try to overcome our sin by ourselves.  Yes, we ask forgiveness from our Savior, but oh how easy it is to continually fall into those sinful traps again, to make the same mistake twice, or discover new ways in which we can turn down the wrong path.  What if instead of keeping the sin just between me and Jesus, I told some others.  Others who might keep me accountable.  Others who might notice when I'm starting to turn in the opposite direction of where I should.  Others that might gently guide or empathize or weep with me when I realize how I've turned away or hurt my Father or hurt my friends or even hurt one I do not know.  Could working together make the task of rooting sin out of my life, out of our lives, a little less arduous?  Does the work of two or three, tilling the soil of us, make it easier?

I think about what is banished in the face of a confession that goes beyond my internal pleas to my Savior.  When I open my lips and spill my life into the hands of another, sin and all, what is it that disappears?


How do we know if we can really be loved unless we share the parts of our hearts that seem mired?  How can we know if we can really trust unless we give someone else something that we are hesitant to expose?  How can we give God the glory of our refinement unless we show that we are desperately in need of being refined?

I think about a particular weed in my garden today.  It was much too big to conquer on my own.  I needed help getting to the root.  Perhaps as that old Sesame Street song goes, 4 hands are better than 2, 4 hands are better than 2.  If you have a job that must be done, 4 hands are better than 2.

Linking with Michelle at Graceful, Laura at The Wellspring, and Shanda at Pause on the Path.


  1. I love that you skipped church and that God found you anyways. He's sort of hard to avoid, but going outside is certainly the best way to reconnect with Him.


  2. Thank you for your post today Jen. I believe we are to help one another and have someone that we can be accountable. Whether it is your best friend or spouse. Someone that you can share with details of sin in your life and can help especially in those times where temptation is being handed. My husband and I had long talks about past wrongs and it helps to have that open communication but also in knowing what signs to look out for in each other.
    God is everywhere!

  3. Great post, Jen! Big thoughts up in your garden, today!

  4. Clearly I needed to come here tonight. I've been thinking of one particular sin that I keep committing over and over. I've been frustrated and so disappointed in myself, because the fact is, even though I've prayed about it, I am still in the sin cycle. Just recently I wrote a draft of a post about it -- it's sitting on my dashboard. I think I needed to read this today to have the courage to schedule it. And maybe, just maybe, going public will help me stop this cycle once and for all.

    Thanks, Jen. I so needed this.

  5. so many things i love about this post. i will just admit that i love the smell of dirt. and now i have some spiritual insight to share when my husband makes fun of me for it!

  6. Great post!

    Sadly, the dirt in one of my flower beds is not quite fresh smelling...The darn cats have decided to use it as a litter box!

    I had a great evening with a dear friend last night. We shared all of our own dirt with each other...And it felt much cleaner and fresh after unburdening with a sister!

  7. I do believe we need each other in overcoming sin. It is in confessing our sins, holding each other accountable and praying for one another, that we gain victory.

  8. So many rich, powerful insights, my friend! One of my messages this weekend was on weeds/roots. (How funny ~ I was teaching on weeds while you were busy pulling them!) Next time we're together remind me to share with you a lesson learned from a former weed-puller in Iowa. I just love how you use your everyday experiences to pull out practical spiritual insights. You inspire me, Jen!
    Love to you~
    Cindy :)

    P.S. Praying for you and your class tomorrow! :)

  9. Love The Smell of Dirt...

    In order to Bloom Where You Are Planted we must remove the weeds, thorns, and thistles in our lives. We prepare by tilling the ground and by digging deep. We then plant on solid fertile ground. We sow and then we reap the harvest.

    Abiding in God's Garden of Grace

  10. I love that you found the beauty in dirt. Without dirt, nothing would grow.

  11. I know I need more refining, but I don't like the ugly stuff that spills out of me either. Selfishness. Pride. Bitterness. Big weeds. Thankful for the big hands that are in charge of our gardens...

  12. I love that you found Jesus in the dirt. I think you may have found him in his favorite place.

  13. I agree, we need to open ourselves up to others and confess those sins with the deep roots, the ones that seem to crop up over and over. I've found, though, that it's hard sometimes to find someone to kneel down and get their hands dirty with me. I think sometimes we are too tempted to offer false reassurance or make excuses, telling one another not to be so hard on ourselves. I truly value the friends who will say, "Okay, you're right. You need to work on that. How can I walk with you through it?"

  14. I love this story! :)

    I absolutely love gardening... Everytime I'm pulling weeds, I end up thinking about scripture. Lately I've been thinking about how hard the ground can get around those weeds. It's amazing that regardless of how deep a root is, God can uproot it and bring the dead back to life! :)


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