Chuck Terrill: Pulling weeds in our yards and lives

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

My first call to preach came from Mulberry Christian Church.

When I accepted that call, I inherited Annie Smith. She was 89 years of age, and her life was far from being over. She was spunky, and full of energy. She delighted in telling people, “I live in the same house I was born in.”


She inherited the house from her parents. It was an old, white farmhouse. Annie took pride in it. When you walked through the front door, you walked at least a hundred years into the past. The furnishings were vintage Victorian. Annie didn’t go to auctions or antique shops. She continued to use what her parents had left to her.

I went to call on Grannie Annie. It was a hot summer day. She was in her front yard hoeing weeds. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, and we sat down on her shady front porch for a few minutes. I told her that it was too hot for a woman her age to being hoeing weeds. She told me a story that I haven’t forgotten.

“My dad was so proud of this place,” she said. “He built the house by himself while he and mother lived in a tent. When I was a young girl, if we were going to have lunch guests after church, my job on Saturday was cutting this lawn. I did it with a pair of scissors. I would sit on the grass and cut as far as my arms could reach. Then, I would scoot and cut the next section. Dad wanted it to be even, so I had to pay attention.”

I looked, again, at her big front yard.

“How long did that take you?” I asked.

“All day long,” she said. “I hated weeds then, and I hate weeds now. Did you know that there were no weeds before Adam’s fall? Weeds, thorns, and thistles sprang up as the result of sin. Every time you see a weed, you’re looking at sin. I won’t let weeds grow in my life, and I certainly won’t let weeds grow in my yard.”

“I agree,” I said. “But, it is a whole lot of work for a woman your age.”

“Don’t matter what age you are,” she said. “You have to keep chopping weeds and sins. God said, ‘Man will live by the sweat of his brow.’ There’s not many working up a sweat, these days. I intend to keep a weed free life as long as God gives me breath.”

When I drove away, she had gone back to chopping weeds. Annie lived to be 103. She was a strong and vigorous 88-pound saint. She lived like we all ought to live.

I have a big yard. I also have many weeds to chop.

“I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction” (Proverbs 24:30).

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.