The kitchen looked like a hospital for wounded soldiers of the garden.
Amputated iris rhizomes lie on neat little beds of paper towel squares as they dry off from their hydrogen peroxide disinfectant treatment.
The dreaded crown rot had attacked my favorite plants, due to the warm weather and ample rains last spring. A good half dozen of my iris varieties have succumbed to this often fatal disease.
The cure is drastic.
The only way to save them is to dig them up and cut away all the soft areas, discolored parts, and visible signs of rot. Sadly, this sometimes meant taking a formerly eight-inch root and hacking away until only one or two inches might be left.
The process was agonizing. Maybe not to the iris, but to me! I am fully aware of the fact that some of these brave little guys will not make it. They will have to be replaced by new recruits from the local iris sellers, or from those sumptuous catalogs where each photo is more enticing than the last.
All right, maybe they won’t have to be replaced. It is somewhat possible that the crowded nature of my garden beds led to this culling of some plants by natural selection after all.
Besides, some of these were irreplaceable. They were given to me by friends, and in some cases not available anymore. This is why my kitchen was hastily converted into an emergency surgery center for iris.
Many times during the summer, I would drop my task as I found new stands of iris with the telltale yellow fans or distinctive foul smell. It was just that important to save my little garden troops.
Do we also do the same when it is spiritual sickness or impending spiritual death in our friends? While the cure may not be always as easy to administer, it needs to be done; and even more urgently than saving the irises.
Cutting away the rottenness of false doctrine and years of bad habits and sin cannot be done with souls as easily as cutting the rot from iris rhizomes. Care must be taken not to lose that person for the Lord by too swift or too little application of a sharp implement. In this case the cutting tool is the Bible.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NASB).
We can be more confident in using this tool to save souls by sharpening it in our own minds. Regular Bible study will help us to perform the expert surgery necessary to cure the rottenness and diseases of the soul (2 Timothy 2:15).
As I carefully planted my iris amputees in new, untainted soil, I thought about how God has similarly saved me from the depths of decay and planted me in his own vineyard.
So, too, are our decaying bodies turned into those that can not become diseased or sick. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).
It is therefore our duty to rescue others as we have been rescued.
“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
snatch them in pity from sin and the grave,
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.”
~ Fanny J. Crosby