A few weeks ago, I was out in the backyard pulling some grass and weeds out of the small garden plot I planted and I noticed some tree limbs sticking out of the ten foot bushes that line one of our fences. As it turns out, my fence isn’t lined with ten foot bushes, it’s lined with trees that have been overgrown by ivy to the point where they are unable to continue growing. Left unattended, they’d probably die within a few more years and I’d be stuck with a thicket of brambles. So, this weekend I put on some gloves, got out the hedge trimmers and began to cutting away.
Four hours later…
I had a stack of debris so deep it’ll take a few weeks before the city will haul it all away, but I can finally see the trees that were underneath. And my backyard looks awful now.
I think the trees are going to survive, but they had been sitting under so much ivy that they’re all on the brink of death and look as if they just survived a hurricane. The fence isn’t much better. For a moment, I almost regretted taking it all down. I mean, it didn’t really look too bad to begin with and it’ll be years before these trees rebound back to health again.
While I was working, I couldn’t help noting how similar ivy is to sin.
You see like ivy, sin also creeps in and takes over, gradually killing whatever is underneath it. At first, it may look good. It may even be planted there on purpose. Plenty of us knowingly and willingly put things into our lives that could get out of control if they aren’t handled properly. We tell ourselves that we’re able to confine it all to one area of our lives, but we’re fooling ourselves. You see, sin never stays put. It reaches out from where it starts and stretches into to other areas of our lives, too. It’s always expanding, always growing, always looking for something or someone else to consume.
And sin doesn’t stop with one person, either. Its web of destruction will take down a whole community- just as ivy takes out an entire row of trees.
And then there’s the removal process. It turns out that just like ivy, getting rid of sin is back-breaking work that leaves you exhausted, bruised, and beat up. When it’s finally gone (or mostly gone), the landscape of our lives is riddled with the evidence of destruction. Often, we look and feel worse off than when the sin was in full form, which makes us tempted to go back to what we had so that we can escape the prying eyes that see damage and guilt instead of beauty.
Removing sin and ivy isn’t fun. It’s definitely not how I’d like to spend my weekend. But I feel like the work I did on the yard and the work I’ve done in my life has been time well spend. You see, I think the future is worth the effort we exert, today. Things will be better then because of the pains I’ve taken to fix things.
I bet my yard is going to look a lot better in a few years and I’ll remember with fondness the time I spent to make it that way. I bet my life will look better, too!
Nathan Key likes to think about faith and philosophy and talk about it with others. He lives with his family in New Hampshire. He doesn't always refer to himself in the third person.