In a fit of confidence this year, I set out tomatoes and squash this year. My tomatoes have done great. Nothing like home-grown tomatoes.
My squash, however, died. I got two squash off four plants. Not a good return on investment.
Most gardeners I know grow boat-loads of squash. In one community where we lived, bags of squash and zucchini would appear on our door step over night. People weren’t being kind. They just wanted to get rid of the stuff. Zucchini bread multiplied. I seriously thought we could add a room onto the house if we got just a few more loaves of zucchini bread.
If the stuff is so easy to grow, why did mine die? I watered the plants. I made sure they got fertilizer. I did everything I needed to do. Right?
There is a disease called “bacterial wilt.” A cucumber caterpillar feeds on the plants and injects a bacteria which causes wilt. Once wilt starts, nothing can be done.
The best way to fight bacteria wilt is to never let it start. You get rid of the cucumber caterpillar. I should have sprayed to kill it. But I didn’t. Being a lazy gardener, I thought maybe the cucumber caterpillars would leave me alone. Maybe God would understand I was a busy pastor and didn’t have time to spray. My excuses didn’t matter. The squash still died.
Your soul can wilt too.
There is an infection that can wilt your ability to make decisions. It can weaken your thoughts; it can destroy your feelings. This infection can incapacitate your body. It can ruin relationships.
The scripture calls this infection “sin.” Before you dismiss the idea of sin as being old fashioned, haven’t you seen its realities? Haven’t you seen people with wilted souls?
The hard truth: you have wilted soul. How do I know? Because we’ve all invited sin into our lives. We’ve all known the right thing to do and done the wrong thing. Those choices – thousands of them – wilt our souls.
When souls wilt, people protest they fed their souls with art, pleasure, and intellectual stimulation. Church people, bewildered, protest they fed their souls by going to church, studying scripture, and praying. Protesting doesn’t change reality.
Your soul can wilt until you are left with a dried up life. A dried up life produces no fruit. A dried up life just takes up space.
Unlike my squash plants, there is hope for our wilted souls. Our hope is the power of Jesus.
Jesus’s death and resurrection does not merely mean we go to heaven. He entered our world. He died to defeat the sin that infects us. His resurrection means he conquered everything that wilts our souls.
Inviting Jesus into our souls brings healing. He drives out the infection of sin. He strengthens our weakness. He rights our skewed feelings and thoughts. He puts our relationships on a firm foundation. That’s what the line in the old hymn means: “He makes the sinner whole…”
Let Jesus not only forgive your sin, but heal your wilted soul. Then prepare to be amazed at the fruit that grows from your life.
If only Jesus would heal my squash.