Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Lessons from a Weed

Some say a weed is just a plant flourishing where you don’t want it to grow. The plant I gazed at certainly fit that description. Its tender green leaves and slim stem contrasted with the smoky-blue Florida sky as it grew in the gutter on my roof. Definitely a place I did not want it to flourish!

I had watched the foot-tall plant growing for several weeks. Inch by inch and day by day, I kept expecting the weed to wilt and die as it reached a point of no return. It didn’t belong there. Yet, there it was, tenaciously rooted in a most inappropriate place. A logical conclusion was that the gutter was filled with decaying leaves and dirt. The combination would naturally provide a welcoming environment for seeds carried by birds or the wind.

A kind neighbor offered to clean out the gutter and remove the weed. But when he climbed the ladder, he made an interesting discovery. The plant was not rooted in dirt. It was rooted in a single, decomposing piece of palm bark. The rest of the gutter was clean.

Lessons from a weed

The lessons taught by this weed were not lost on me.

Importance of Perseverance

First, I was reminded of the adage, “An oak tree is just an acorn that held its ground.” This plant flourished because a lone seed tenaciously clung to the only opportunity it had.

How often do I give up when life becomes difficult? It’s so easy to blame less than ideal circumstances for my failures. The characteristic of perseverance is much like a muscle: it needs exercise to grow in strength. James 1:12, says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial” (NIV). Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not grow weary of doing good” (ESV) and Romans 5:3-4 tells us suffering produces perseverance.

Danger of Passivity

On the other hand, the second lesson I learned sprang from an observation by a friend. After viewing the photo, she noted, “Interesting how little it takes for a weed to take root.”

Hmmm…what about the weeds in my own life? Little sins easily grow into deep-rooted and destructive habits. And they do it with little to no conscious encouragement from me. Sort of how the weed sprouted and flourished while I passively watched it grow on my roof for weeks.

I love how Elisabeth Elliot addressed this warning:

“Spiritual strongholds begin with a thought. One thought becomes a consideration. A consideration develops into an attitude, which leads then to action. Action repeated becomes a habit, and a habit establishes a “power base for the enemy,” that is, a stronghold.”

What thoughts am I tolerating today that will become strongholds tomorrow?

The final lesson reminds me of yet another adage:

Bloom Where You’re Planted

There were many better places in my yard for that weed to grow, but it grew where it was planted.

Am I content in where God has planted me? Am I listening for the prompts of the Holy Spirit to share Jesus where I am and to be a blessing to those God has placed in my life? Or am I looking longingly at other peoples’ lives, wishing I had been planted in their circumstances instead?

One little weed. Three big lessons.
What are your thoughts?

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  1. Lee Owen

    So many life lessons here, all from one weed and one piece of palm bark. Thank you for a wonderful, thought-provoking post.

  2. Joanna Schwarz

    God certainly has gifted you, my sister, to see and apply God’s lessons in the simplest things of every day life. And not just this, but to write it down in such a beautiful way that He uses it to convict and encourage all at the same time! I needed this word today. Thank you.

  3. Ava Pennington

    Awww…thank you, Joanna!
    So grateful for how God connected us…and then reconnected us 1000 miles later!

  4. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Lee.

  5. Evie

    Wow! You have given us so much out of the growth of that weed in the gutter!! God has blessed you with so much knowledge of Him that you can impart to those who need those lessons from Him!!
    Thank you, Ava

  6. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Evie – those lessons are just as convicting for me, too!

  7. Lesley

    Well said my friend! I love this!!

  8. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Lesley!

  9. Beth Bingaman

    You (and Elizabeth Elliot) are reminding me why it is so important to take every thought captive!

  10. Ava Pennington


  11. Karen Friday

    Love this analogy, Ava! Crazy, we went through the same experience a few months ago. The only difference is I could see multiple weeds growing in a row along one of our home’s gutters. We enlisted a friend to help my husband clean out the gutters of dirt and leaves and muck. If I hadn’t realized they were weeds, it really looked like I’d planted a complete garden on purpose on my roofline. 🙂 I not only want to consider where my thoughts are growing and keep Philippians 4:8 in mind and keep my mind out of the gutter, but to also bloom where I’m planted and making sure that’s Christ.

  12. Melissa Henderson

    There are many lessons to be learned from weeds.

  13. Jessica Brodie

    Wow, what a deep and complex post, Ava! I loved this. Thank you for your conviction and faith. What hits me today about this is the need to stand strong despite opposition and chaos, just like this little weed did!

  14. Stephen Lewis

    Awesome Message Sister thanks as always for giving us an eye opener!! God Bless

  15. Yvonne Morgan

    Great life lesson. Thanks for sharing.

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