I recently started some college courses. (four to be exact) I am enjoying each of my classes to some degree, but have realized that I can only study for so many hours in a row without a break. After a few hours of reading textbooks, my eyes begin to glaze over and my mind goes slightly numb. So what does that have to do with ivy? Well, lately, whenever I feel in need of a break and some “real” work, I go out and pull up ivy in my backyard.
I was out pulling ivy in the rain this afternoon –yes, in the rain…I think there’s a three-year-old somewhere inside me that still likes mud puddles... besides, dirt’s good for you, right? : )
Anyway, as I was pulling up ivy, a thought came to me: “This is sort of like what God wants to do in my heart.” The more I thought about the ivy I was pulling, the more it reminded me of the sin God is working to uproot in my heart.
English Ivy (the kind of ivy I have been pulling up) starts out as a pretty little plant, which looks quite harmless. It then begins to creep over the ground, rooting itself as it goes, trying to climb and cover whatever it encounters. It gives a stately and mysterious look to the things it clings to, such as trees and buildings, but if it is left to itself, it will eventually take over completely, destroying the things it covers.
Take trees for example. When English Ivy climbs up a tree, it does not simply wrap itself harmlessly around it as it seems to do. It actually digs into the bark of the tree periodically to anchor itself. That is why one cannot simply pull it off a tree. If you pull it off, the bark comes with it.
Sin is very similar. It starts out small (1 Corinthians 5:6) but if left unheeded it grows and grows until it is a tangled mess. It digs into our hearts, rooting itself deeper over time, making it increasingly painful to remove. It may look good at first, appealing, as with Eve, (Genesis 3:6) to our bodies, (“good for food”) to our sensibilities, (“pleasant to the eyes”) and to our minds, (“to be desired to make one wise”) but as Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
The particular patch of ground I am endeavoring to clear is under a stand of tall trees which are so big and old that if you were to pull away the outer branches and walk inside, you might imagine yourself in a very small forest. It would be a perfect place to sit and read or think, but not until the ivy is gone.
As I worked, I remembered that, just as I have a plan for the place I am clearing out, God has a plan for my heart and life, which can only be accomplished as the ivy of sin is cleared.