As soon as we moved to Nashville, I had an urge to plant a garden. But seeing as we moved in the middle of winter, we had to settle for an indoor, winter box garden.

So, the kids and I headed over to Home Depot and I let them each pick out some seeds and the necessary planting gear. We promptly returned home and started assembly on our kitchen floor. The kids loved digging in the dirt and dropping seeds into the little soil nests we created for them. The thought of something so tiny becoming so full of life brought them to giggles!

Fast forward a few weeks. Of all the herbs, vegetables and flowers we planted, everything failed miserably…except one: our sunflower.

Soon our little sprout outgrew its Dixie cup. So at the first sign of spring, we transplanted it into our postage stamp of a backyard with room to spread its roots. It was amazing how quickly it grew! I kept taking pictures of the kids in front of it so we could chart its progress. Before we knew it, the stalks were growing as high as our fence and we needed to put skates in the ground to help support it!

However, as the leaves grew and multiplied, so did the amount of ants and bugs. One day, I was so fed up over the insects that were eating away at our pride and joy I decided to douse the plant with bug spray. The good news was that I succeeded in doing away with the bugs, at least temporarily.  The bad news was that my rash decision began a slow infection within our precious plant. Spots popped up. Green faded to brown. Bugs returned.

Some sunflowers did eventually emerge, but they were withered versions of what you typically see from this glorious plant.

Fast forward again about eight months.

This once fresh and life-giving little seed was now two, tall, rotting stalks infested with flying ants. In fact, it was almost impossible for me to remove from the ground because of the deep roots that had spread beneath the soil. Though what was visible looked rotten and fragile, what existed under the surface was actually strong and deep.

It still amazes me that one quick spray in a moment without thinking caused the life of this plant to change very drastically.

“I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Have you ever rationalized a move, a meal, an outing, a movie, or something of the like that might not necessarily be wrong or sinful, but it wasn’t the best for you? Because of that one decision, it becomes easier to rationalize similar decisions and slowly, your definition of acceptable begins to change. While you may think you can go back at any time you choose, you fail to realize that the series of choices you made changes you on the inside, affecting your entire being.

We live in a self-focused society today. No-one will fault you for doing something you think you deserve. As women, we have every right to rationalize a little “me” time. We wear many hats: daughter, friend, mother, wife, volunteer, ministry leader, worker, sister, neighbor…we all know I could go on for the rest of this page. But if we continue to focus on what we do instead of who we are doing it for, we become very self-centered and resentful very quickly.

If each of us got what we truly deserved, we’d all be in trouble. Instead, Christ rescued us from a fate worse than death so that we might not only live, but live life to its fullest! We need to stop trying so hard to keep up our outer appearance while we’re slowly rotting away inside. When your heart is focused on Christ and His best, you’ll soon find yourself willingly avoiding the easy road that leads down a dangerous path.

By the time I went to pull the sunflower from the ground, there was so much I had to unearth just to get to the roots. Likewise, a series of poor choices leads to a deep change within us; even once the external factors are removed, it may take longer to make an effective life change.

Consider the path before you. You are not alone in your journey. Just as God watches over you, there are many others around you praying that you will choose the right path; plant your seed close to those who bring you life and encourage you to strengthen your roots in the good soil. You’ll find once your garden begins to grow in the midst of other healthy plantings, your roots will grow even stronger and link up with theirs.

-Sami Cone

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