Removing a Stubborn Stump
Several 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. About two years later, I went out one morning planning to break up the stump which I assumed would be pretty well rotten by then. After a few whacks with the ax I found that I was wrong; it was just as solid as it was the day I cut the tree down. Determined not to allow that surprising realization 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!
After shoveling dirt away I discovered several significant prop roots that were performing their purpose very well. I also noticed to my astonishment 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. 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 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 get rid of them. 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 essential 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).
Today, on that spot of ground where that unwelcome stump once hindered the usefulness of the soil, corn, tomatoes, and squash are thriving. It took some effort to prepare the soil for cultivation, but after it was done there is reward to be reaped. That is a good reminder that when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and apply the Word of God, we can realize beautiful growth in our spiritual lives where detestable things once stood.
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.