the secret to removing the bugs

my now bug-free grapevine

My grapevine is only a year old. It has grown wildly fast this season and I have been amazed and impressed with how big the leaves are and how well it has climbed the fence while stretching its roots in the sandy coastal soil.

But lately I have noticed it had looked less than healthy. So this morning I thought I would investigate further. As I peered at the leaves and stems I started to notice just how bad it looked. I noticed holes and spots. And upon closer examination, I saw worms! Eew! Gross little yellow worms. I love to garden but I hate bugs, especially plant eating ones. So I took to the vine with all the pesticide I could until it dripped off the ends of the leaves.

Feeling proud of myself I thought I would look closer to be sure they were dying and falling off, as I expected them to. But when I touched the leaves I realized the top surface where the pesticide dripped and puddled, would never bother the worms. They were clustered under the leaves happily gathered, eating and breeding. Ugh! Clearly a more intentional and tedious approach was necessary.

I immediately took to flipping every leaf over and snipping the ones that were favored by the pests. I disposed of the affected leaves and even picked up several of the disgusting worms from around my precious vine. As I flipped and picked the hundred or so leaves, I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 46:10, “be still and know I am God.”

As the vine was still, I was able to remove every bug that was in process of killing my grapevine. I thought about how 1 John 1 :8-9 says, “If we say have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Our sins are the bugs we hide on the underside. We might even read our bible and drip with knowledge yet all the while be failing to actually be still before Him, confess our sins before Him and let Him remove each one and wash us clean again.

What if we went to the Gardener with what’s eating at our hearts? How does that practically look for those of us who are in Christ?

  1. Take the time to be still before Him without distractions, if possible. Even a few moments on the porch offering our heart to His careful investigation can be life-giving.
  2. Confess anything He brings to mind that is offensive to His heart for you. Lies your believing, people you have wronged, words or thoughts that aren’t honoring to the Lord or others all hide on the underside of our leaves if we let them. Agree with Him that these are sinful and ask Him to give you His heart and perspective and peace.
  3. Then by faith receive the cleansing and walk forward free and bearing the fruit He will grow in you.

One article I saw about these worms said the best remedy was to pick the wormy leaves and then wash the whole vine with soap and water. Cleanse it free of all the pests. As I soap up the vine and rinse away the irritants and their eggs, I will be asking the Lord to give me stillness of heart today as I seek to confess my own failures and “bugs” to Him and ask Him to wash me clean once again. He is faithful and just to do exactly that.

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