Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul!

I would often sing this song when I was feeling particularly thankful for what God has blessed me with in my life. To think, just a handful of years ago, I almost committed suicide because of the enemy’s strongholds on my life.

I have a house, money to pay the bills, a mother that was generous and supportive, a job, and my marriage remains faithful and enduring through it all. However, my attitude had a lot to do with where I was headed, spiritually.

I gave myself over to grievances that were simple and petty. I was flustered by an unexpected bill, anxious with a test that I didn’t feel ready for, or discouraged because I was never going to have enough energy to keep up with the plant overgrowth in my yard.

strongholds: sapling growing from debris

My yard, when I lived in Kansas, was so fertile that anything and everything would grow from it. Many times, there were little seedlings of trees sprouting in flowerbeds or in the brick trim.

Ignoring The Problem

I would try pulling them out only to find them deeply rooted in. How am I going to keep up with this lot if I am so overwhelmed by it?

Likely my attitude was to blame, not the abundance of the soil and plants. I just wasn’t in the right mindset to tackle such things.

I wasn’t earnest in my landscaping efforts. I would place all my energies in other activities like completing college and staying above water at my job. When I gave up, the overgrowth was so thick that I had to have family come help cut the grass, trim the trees, and weed the yard.

strongholds: fence being overtaken by plants

My ignorance led to needing help from others to address what I had failed to on so many occasions. I now observe this in a spiritual sense.

I have spent my entire life asking God for things in times of need; however, I wasn’t careful in doing my share. As with my crazy ivy-infested land, I ignored the growth and pretended that nothing was wrong.

The day we decided to sell our house is when it all came tumbling down upon us. No one would want to buy a home with this uncontrolled and untamed lawn. It was an eyesore!

Allowing Strongholds

It would take dedication, cutting and trimming tools, and vehicles to haul off the debris. And honestly, it took two grown men four hours to get half of the project done, which included transporting branches and brush to a dumpsite.

strongholds: window being overtaken by ivy

When my family came to help is only another instance of my inability to control the vegetation, and they couldn’t even to do all of it because of time constraints and quite frankly, because it wasn’t their responsibility.

Yet, not long before all the chaos, I was able to take advantage of the abundant soil and start a vegetable and herb garden. I was able to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cilantro, mint, and much more.

I was able to reap a reward from a minuscule portion of my property. Still, I didn’t tend to the rest of my yard… I feel like this is a metaphor for our lives.

We toil away in one area, producing the most beautiful fruit. Then, we leave the rest of ourselves for the enemy to take root and engulf us one day, creating strongholds.

Sowing Much, Reaping Little

It was a slow process. The rain would come and then the sun, but day after day the brush grew stronger, higher, and wider.

My attitude, specifically, was one that lacked enough foresight and common sense to say, “This is not going to go away on its own, Jess.” I chose to pay no heed to what was going on in my yard, let alone my life, until one day I couldn’t avoid it anymore.

I was depressed, having panic attacks, & contemplating suicide. Oh, I was achieving a 3.9 GPA in my college classes, but I was a mess elsewhere; just like when my garden was being fruitful, but the rest of my plot was not.

strongholds: depressed woman

And did it matter the amount of produce I was able to grow in that small area of it, when in the grander scheme of things I would eventually consider taking my life? God, along with my husband and mother, had to help me clear away what I was so clearly casting aside as unimportant until it was almost too late.

Understanding Spiritual Warfare

If I see something in myself or others that produces obvious strongholds from the enemy, I cannot overlook it. Because when it gets to that stage of untamed turmoil, then the devil has already made some serious ground.

The effort to undo it all requires much more energy, resources, and help; it would have been so much easier in the beginning… in its infancy.

strongholds: shovel and rake

Even though I would have liked my accomplishments to make my problems disappear, it didn’t happen. God’s wisdom would have said to me, “This will not go away on its own. You can distract yourself, but it will soon be too big to handle on your own.”

And that’s what happened- I didn’t diligently weed out the bad. I kept trimming away at it every time that it began to flourish again. I was doing twice as much labor for not enough progress and I was losing the spiritual battle.

Asking Him For Help

So for those that have something just as problematic in their life, consider asking Him for help… but prepare for Him to help you confront those demons instead of avoiding them. Expect for Him to deracinate all that mess that needs dealing with once and for all.

When you do, the workmanship might actually be more beautiful and pleasing than you or anyone else would ever expect.

strongholds: landscaped yardPoor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)


Post Question: What are your strongholds and how is God helping to weed them out? Comment below!


        

16 COMMENTS

  1. What a beautiful and honest post. Thank you for sharing your heart and your heartache. I also struggle with balance. I will be diligent, self-controlled, and motivated in one area of my life. Or maybe two or three. But will lose sight of another area and allow old patterns and habits to grow new again. Without God’s help and careful watch things can come crumbling down. Great reminders!

  2. “The effort to undo it all requires much more energy, resources, and help; it would have been so much easier in the beginning… in its infancy.” This is true for so many horrible circumstances in our lives–broken relationships especially. We need to ask God to show us the early stages of a problem before it gets too bad.

    • Absolutely, Susan! And studying God’s Word is also important in being able to catch them early. I think some people ask God for help, but don’t dig into the Bible to see what help He’s providing!

  3. It would be a good practice to ask ourselves at least weekly what strongholds are in our lives that we may be unaware of. Thank you for sharing your beautifully honest thoughts!

  4. God can help us – yes! But we must ask.

    This is such a wonderfully honest post. Focusing only on one area does often lead to heartache and wildness in other areas.

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