A giant oak stands in our yard. My hunch is that it is approaching 150 years old. We have lived on the property for more than ten years. Ivy vines have grown up at the base of the tree and now reach more than 50 feet up the trunk. I love the ivy. We have hung a welcome sign on the tree and allowed the ivy to grow around it. Along comes a visitor who shares with me that the Ivy is a parasite that takes life from the tree. In time the ivy will kill the giant oak.
Do I enjoy the ivy and allow the oak to slowly die?
I debated the issue for some weeks saying "Maybe the oak will live as long as we stay in this house."
One day I decided the oak tree did not deserve to die from a parasite. My axe was sharp. I began at the base of the tree and worked all the way around the tree chopping the roots of the Ivy.
My expectation was that within a few days I would see dead ivy leaves up the tree trunk. Time has passed. Weeks have passed. There are a few dead leaves in the area where the roots of the Ivy were cut. However, up the trunk the Ivy is as healthy as it was before I severed roots.
This puzzled me. I began to study how the Ivy could be living. As I examined the tree it became obvious that the ivy had grown tentacles into the tree further up and was sapping life---drawing energy from the oak. Up the tree the ivy was still healthy and leaves were green.
I stood there and it became apparent to me that a spiritual lesson was before my eyes.
As sinners we come to Jesus. The axe gets laid to the root of sin. We are severed from our relationship with the devil. However, the journey we have made in our flesh with the devil has allowed sin to put its tentacles into the flesh of our life. Sin's fingers have probed into our heart and found ways to steal energy from us. We have developed habits that are not godly. We have allowed our mind to think upon things that are not pure. We have been to places we should not have gone. We have associated with people who did not respect God.
We repent. We choose God. The roots get cut. However, the vines that have grown in our life have to be weeded out. We have to forcefully peel some of the vines away from the tree. It will not be easy. It will take some time.
Fortunately, as we work to peel away the vines that satan has wrapped around our lives, the Holy Spirit gives us counsel and strength. We have the Body--the Church--to hold us accountable and encourage us. We are not alone.
My prayer is that as a Body of people at Covenant Church we may stand united, work together, hold each other accountable and chop down and peel away vines that the devil meant to snare us. May the oak tree live. May we live and be powerful for Jesus.