A field covered in purple flowers can be a pretty sight, especially when the afternoon breeze wafts through, stirring up littles waves of lively dances. But it can also fill the heart with dread.
An attractive pest
Growing up in WA on the edge of the wheat-belt we had several paddocks that were inundated with Paterson's Curse, a prolific herb that makes itself a pest by producing some 5000 seeds per plant per year. Yes, that is one crazy big number! And while the purple flowers in bloom are pretty, their effect on the livestock is not so palatable. Horses can die within weeks of grazing on the toxic weed. Sheep and cattle are a little more resilient, but the effects are still harmful if not fatal.
So every now and again on a bright summers afternoon we would head out to the paddocks to tackle the encroaching weed. Needless to say, that wasn't my idea of fun! Three feet past the gate and I would be thinking to myself 'why can't we decide to stop calling this stuff a weed and just accept it as something beautiful?' To my childish eyes these plants looked akin to the daisies in the front garden, only difference being someone had labelled it a weed.
Behind the facade
I've since come to learn that there are lots of things in life that use a large purple flower as a faÃ§ade for the insidious workings underneath. Seemingly good things can be our undoing.
For an obvious example take a look at money. It is the ticket to innumerable pleasures, the key to dreams coming true. With enough of it, we can change the world. We can buy the boat, that trip to Europe and the fancy house. But its silky leaves have sharp points that like to prick. The more we have, the more we want. It never satisfies. Happiness it certainly cannot buy.
And even happiness is itself another example, howbeit far less obvious. Everyone wants to be happy, right? But a pursuit of happiness is so often a race towards selfishness, leaving anything but happiness in its wake. 'If it makes you happy' people say, as if happiness alone justifies a deed. But happiness can be a fickle thing, there one moment, gone the next. Just ask someone going through a bitter divorce after a steamy affair. It felt so right! But it ended in torn hearts, a broken home and a shattered legacy.
Be on guard
Jesus told a story about someone sowing seed in a field, with seeds falling on rocky ground, among thorns, on the pathway and in the good soil. Each place the seed fell had a different meaning, which Jesus explained to his disciples. About the thorns he said:
'The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature' (Luke chapter 8, verse 14).
In this I see Jesus warning to be on guard against chasing seemingly good things that actually lead away from the path of righteousness. Life's worries, riches and pleasures are the things foremost on my mind most of the time. I want to be rich, I want to be happy. But the purple fields of pleasure hide a deadly poison.
I have heard the good news of the gospel, and I have accepted it. But it commands more than a verbal acquiescence to its truth; it requires my life and obedience. It requires a faith that is alive, and living involves growing. The riches and pleasures of this world stunt growth. They choke it like a thousand weeds propagating in a sunburnt paddock. A thousand weeds covered in purple flowers.
Thomas Devenish lives in Hobart, Tasmania. He works as a motion designer and enjoys the diverse experiences life has to offer, from wake-boarding to curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
Thomas Devenish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/thomas-devenish.html