In the back of our house, we have an ivy vine infestation. It’s like an invasive species is taking over. Some of the tall pine trees in the common area are covered, reaching 20 to 30 feet into the air. Looking back, in the night sky, it looks as if a few giant Chewbaccas are looking into the windows of our home.
Once the ivy reaches the tips, the vines start to look for something new to devour. Their tentacles grow outward and sideways toward the nearest, unsuspecting tree. Like a slow-moving octopus, it wraps its tentacles around one branch, and then more will come. Slowly the thin strands become ropes, as strong as chains. These leeches suck the juice from the innocent tree. The more it feeds stronger its grip and the more the future of the big tree diminishes. If left to itself, the vine becomes one with the tree.
The Magnolia, Palm, Holly, and Rosebush – their individuality, uniqueness, shape, and shade of their leaves, bright red berries and buds, all gets swallowed up into one mob of sameness – green ivy leaves. Soon the whole backyard looks like a giant green blob as if a city of green leaves grew overnight, threatening to take our property by eminent domain for further expansion.
Now off to the side of the backyard is the source of the cancer. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a young tree with hopes of reaching the sun. But the ivy got a hold long ago. It looks like one giant, green tumor. Each day it grows closer to our screened-in porch.
So, it was off to Home Depot to rent a weed eater-like device, but instead of a plastic chord at the end, there is a toothy saw blade. With one crank, she came alive, looking for some vines to saw in half. The obvious starting point was the green blob.
As I hacked into the side of it, the blade vibrated and rang, like the sound of two lightsabers. After a few wacks, giant pieces of the tumor fell to the ground. But behind the green leafy exterior was an ugly, brown, wet center of entangled vines, balled up and matted and feeding off one another, in a kind of cannibalistic knot. As I hacked deeper into the brown deadness, behind it was a hallow center. The former tree had got so overgrown with ivy, its head drooped down to the ground, touch the earth, leaving a kind of dome. It made the perfect hiding place for a skunk, a possum, or a snake. But there was no evidence of anything living. Just deadness.
Now the sunlight brightened the moist, lifeless center. Severed tentacles of green ivy dangled over my head, touching the top of my hat. I felt pieces of ivy touching the sides of my legs. In my mind, I pictured this green monster coming to life and wrapping me up in its vines as if I were a tree. The trees now had some space to grow. With the vines cut, I could easily pull them out of the trunks and branches of the tree.
If we let ourselves go, distractions, problems, sins, shortcomings, despair, and decay will rise to overtake us. So, let us fight the good fight of faith. Let’s take the sword of the Spirit and hack down every stronghold, every tentacle, every nasty vine that would entangle us. Let us shine the light on the dark places through confession, community, and prayer. Let’s lift our voices in praise. The vines of despair and hopelessness will not grow and overtake our homes. They will not suck the life out of our marriages. Don’t sit and watch the ivy grow. Let’s hack away. Don’t give the devil one foothold in your life.
I now realize this isn’t a one-time job, but a routine for the Whitlow house. The ivy is out there. It took it several months to get this way, but now little by little, we’re taking back the ground that’s been stolen. We’re going to reclaim what God has given us. It won’t happen in one confrontation, but every day, little by little, step by step. The yard will be renewed and beautified. So, let’s go. Where do you need to start wacking today?
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…