Removing a stubborn stump

Published 3:32 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

About two years ago I cut down a tree in our yard.  It was attractive when it was in bloom, but it was in an inconvenient place so I removed it.  I went out one morning recently planning to break up the stump which I assumed would be pretty well rotten by now.  After a few whacks with the ax I found that I was wrong; it was just as solid as the day I cut the tree down.  Determined not to allow that discovery to stop my plans, I continued to chip and chop at the stubborn protrusion—but with little success.  So far the stump had me stumped!

With the realization that my initial techniques were not getting the job done I started to drag out other tools.  After shoveling dirt away I discovered several significant prop roots that were performing their purpose very well.  I also noticed to my surprise that even though the stump was not supporting any foliage, the roots were not deteriorated; they showed signs of life.

After digging with the shovel and chopping with the ax for awhile, it was apparent that I needed reinforcements so I fired up the chain saw and started cutting away at the big underground roots.  But even that was not yet enough and I had to drag out another tool—a crow bar. 

Email newsletter signup

I was huffing and puffing by then, but still determined not to give up.  I kept digging, sawing, prying, and sweating.  I had dug out a good sized crater around the stump, but it continued to stand its ground.  Finally, after nearly two hours of precious time consumed, victory was gained.  The stump broke loose and I was glad to be able to load it onto the trailer and cover up the huge hole I had dug.  Persistence pays when dealing with hard to achieve goals.

The next day I was reminded of my physical condition when the soreness and stiffness were manifested in muscles that apparently had been as dormant as those old roots under the stump.  It reminded me of what one of my walking partners said some time ago as three of us old men were taking our early morning walk.  We all had expressed our complaints about some pain or ailment when he wisely summed up the matter:  “If you put all three of us together you still would not have a whole man!”

Sometimes we have things entrenched in our lives that need to be removed that are as stubborn and hard to remove as that old stump.  Like those roots that were still alive deep into the ground, we can harbor things in our hearts that might not be visibly evident yet are alive and causing damage to our inner person.  Such things as jealousy, bitterness, anger, and a multitude of others can stubbornly plant themselves in our hearts and create an ongoing obstacle to our spiritual progress.

The solution is to get rid of such things, but it cannot be done with a shovel or ax; it takes persistence and God’s help to rid one’s self of such things.  We are instructed in James 1:21 with these words:  “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you”  (New International Version).  The next verse is key to seeing undesirable traits removed from our lives:  “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says” (verse 22).

Removing stubborn and undesirable actions and attitudes from our lives can cost time, effort, and pain but the victory achieved is worth the effort.  Put God’s Word into practice and allow it to help you dig out those things that are deeply entrenched in your heart.