Growing Like a Weed

Its large glossy leaves are deep green and deeply veined. They spread off in all directions from a singular reddish-brown stalk creating deep shade. When one of these plants first appeared in our yard, I thought it looked quite attractive. Our landlord however, pointed it out and said emphatically, “Whenever you see those cut them down.” He was right, Morinda Citrifolia is a beautiful … weed. It’s more commonly known in these parts as a Noni tree. It’s widely eaten in the east and some make great health claims for its fruit, but I don’t expect it has a lot of western fans. Consider this description from Wikipedia, “The fresh fruit’s strong, vomit-like odor has made it a famine food in most regions.”  In fact, two of its other names, both referring to its odor are “cheese fruit” and “vomit fruit.”

Now every plant has its purpose, but there are several reasons I put this one in the weed category:

  • It volunteers a little too readily not to be suspect
  • It will set up shop in neighborhoods where other plants wouldn’t
  • It pops up quicker than Dollar General stores in the South.

Every week, I can find several new Noni plants around the yard. They grow out of a crack, the side of a dead stump, in shallow soil … almost anywhere. And here’s the real sign of a weed … they grow incredibly fast. If left alone they are taller than me in a month. There’s a reason we have a saying, “He’s growing like a weed.” Weeds grow in shallow and depleted soil, without cultivation and more rapidly than other plants in the same area. So, Noni is on my weed list.

Why is it that the things we want in our yards need encouragement and cultivation, while those plants we count as nuisances are almost impossible to eradicate? Why is that true for our hearts … for our souls … for our character? As I think through my life almost everything productive and pleasant is there because of training, discipline and perseverance. What grows easily, what comes naturally are qualities that choke out more noble intentions. At onset, these life weeds appear relaxing, entertaining, beautiful, but they tend ultimately toward disorder, disillusionment and disharmony. Don’t settle for what naturally sprouts from a shallow and depleted heart. Cultivate a life of useful fruit for Christ and the world. Listen to the encouragement of Paul,

Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9–12