It’s that time of year when we are surrounded by green fields. The corn is tall, the beans are thick. As we drive down the dusty gravel roads between these fields, the beans always bring back such strong summer memories for me. See, I grew up in the era of “walking beans.” Many people probably have never heard of such a thing. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. We walked the bean fields. Growing up on a farm in Nebraska, when our time came as teenagers, all my siblings and I spent summers walking beans.
Because of the summer heat, we’d get an early start to do as much as possible before it was too hot. With our tool of choice in hand — a knife, spade, or hoe — we’d set to work. We’d walk back and forth down the long rows and remove anything that wasn’t a soybean. Oftentimes, our best tool was our hands. It would be easier to pull out the weeds, roots and all, rather than hack at it with a heavy spade.
At the end of the day, we’d be dead tired and covered from head to toe in either dirt or mud, depending on when the last rain was. But we could look out over the field as we’d head out and see a job well done — a nice, clean bean field. No obnoxious weeds poking out. A level sea of bright green.
Walking beans is not about how the field looks, although a clean soybean field is a beautiful site to see. It’s about a farmer not being robbed of their yield by weeds. Weeds reduce crop yield because they compete aggressively with the crops for valuable nutrients, moisture, and light. We all know how hardy and vigorous weeds can be, right? They can quickly outgrow a crop and consume all the water and nutrients.
So it comes down to this basic truth: The bad things must be removed so the good things can thrive. Sounds like something that applies to life as well.
Our hearts and minds can work in a similar manner. Weeds pop up where there can be beauty and peace. They are hardy and aggressive and can easily multiply. They distract us from joy in our own lives. They trap us, drain us, and choke out the truth.
Fear, worry, discontent — weeds.
Guilt, shame — weeds.
Brooding, pride, jealousy — all weeds.
We are called to think and keep our minds on good thoughts, not destructive ones, and to focus our attention on things that reflect God, that come from Him, and that He teaches. We are to fill our minds and hearts with the truth, and Philippians 4 tells us exactly what to be thinking about.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 (NASB)
In this world, it’s easy to dwell on the negative. It’s a challenge not to just expect doom and gloom. We give too much of our time to sinful and negative thoughts, but we don’t want our hearts and minds taken over with all those awful weeds.
With God’s help, we can pluck and hoe out those weeds of doubt, discouragement, and sin. We can fix our minds on what is good and true and allow God to grow and flourish us. When we fill our minds with who He is, what He has done, and the things that are true, we will experience His peace in our lives.
As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:9 (NASB)
All soil has the potential to grow weeds, and so do our lives. There is no snap of the fingers to just eradicate each and every weed from the soil or from our lives. We have to deal with the weeds. We have to put in the work. Thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone. Just like walking a bean field would be impossible to do alone, God will help us get those weeds. He will renew our thinking so we can learn to fill our minds with things from Him. Then we have the peace, joy, and the beauty of a clean heart.