It’s spring and my thoughts turn outside. My husband removed a brick border and trees by an outside shed–a garden space that was becoming overgrown and was damaging the building beside it. I raked the dirt to prepare it for grass seed, and I scattered seeds, covering them gently during yesterday’s chilly rain. In another space, I cut back vines from years of neglect, vines that have wrapped around fence posts and neighboring plants, grabbing and choking everything in their grasp. This task is trickier on a hill that’s covered in loose rocks–I balance and try to secure a foothold, a workout wielding the saw and shovel.
I read in Isaiah of the vineyard.
Now I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a rich and fertile hill.
2 He plowed the land, cleared its stones,
and planted it with the best vines.
In the middle he built a watchtower
and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.
Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,
but the grapes that grew were bitter.
3 Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah,
you judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could I have done for my vineyard
that I have not already done?
When I expected sweet grapes,
why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes? (Isaiah 5:1-5, NLT)
I cherish so many scriptures, but one I keep especially close is this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT)
In recent years, this is the scripture that got me off the couch and outside running. I feel deep satisfaction in running, and I enjoy being part of online running groups and learning from others. Daily, though, someone posts a picture of wounds from a fall–and daily, I remind myself to pay close attention to my route so I don’t roll my ankle, or stumble on sticks, or trip on uneven ground. I can run with measured breath and stamina, but my heart rate monitor shows me a different perspective, and I wonder why my heart beats so fast after all this time.
Lord, I take inventory. Help me to identify the weight that slows me down, especially sin that easily trips me up. Today’s entire reading is a reminder of the weight and destruction of sin. A bitter root troubles not only me, but corrupts many.
12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:12-15, NLT)
Lord, I know you love me. You always point me toward what’s best. Help me to run the race you’ve marked out for me, to identify and throw off the things that slow me down and trip me up. I keep my eyes on you.