Working on a Dream




Friday, July 18, 2014

My battle with Toxicodendron radicans.

35 years on this earth and I somehow managed to avoid Toxicodendron radican … otherwise known as Poison Ivy.

A few weeks ago, our church had a workday where we gathered on a Saturday to do manly-chores and spruce up the place. I chose the “sawing-stuff down” task along with a few friends and to work we went.

I felt good afterward; like I just did some blue-collar, sweating-in the-sun-stuff. When I got home I bragged to my wife about all the hard work that was done, she ignored me, and then I took a nice cool shower and relaxed!

It was a few days later that I discovered a “mosquito bite” on my right forearm. I gently scratched it and then ignored it. The next day I complained to my wife that mosquitoes must love me because I have even more bites than the day before … after almost taking a hatchet to my arm I decided to take a look at it in the mirror. There, I stood motionless as I came to the realization that those where not mosquito bites at all, rather I had contracted Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy, I have discovered, is no walk in the park. See, the thing with Poison Ivy is that the MORE you scratch it, the MORE it spreads. It seems as if Poison Ivy WANTS to spread. Isn’t that a nice little trick? That is like feeling hungry and then eating only to feel even more hungry. I have to tell you, this reminds me very much of the Biblical concept of sin. Sin entices you; it leaches on to you when meddled with, and finds a way to stick around. And, the more time you give it, the more it spreads. Also, Poison Ivy does not discriminate. It does not matter how rich or poor you are, it does not care if you are black or white and it is not concerned if you are a guy or a gal. Another parallel can be drawn here as sin is no respecter of persons. Sin has an open door policy and the applications are always enticing.

Let’s venture back to the Poison Ivy for a moment.
Not only does this green demon spread on your skin, it easily jumps to those around you. Got it? Let’s go back to the sin thing again. Similarly, sin not only has a destructive effect on your life, it also ruins the lives of those around you. That is the thing with sin. It not only destroys you, it destroys those around you. I remember listening to a wife of an addict complaining that she cannot find her keys. My first thought was that her husband had stolen them. Nope. Every day she had to find a new hiding place for her keys to prevent her husband from finding them in the first place. Sin wrecked his life, but it was not done yet, it now was wrecking hers.

The book of James paints a vivid picture of this process, Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Did you see it? L.S.D.

It is all there in a poison formula. Sin entices you. Sin overtakes you. Sin spreads. Sin produces ugly results.

Perhaps we can draw one last parallel here? Getting rid of my Poison Ivy has been a painstaking process. There were lotions, scrubs, wraps, and lots of weird glances. It even caused me to form some new habits, including wearing long sleeves the next time I am working in a wooded area. A perpetual sinful lifestyle has found its way in your life because of choices you have made (and continue to make), the patterns you have developed and the people you surround yourself with. Think deeply about those 3:
The choices you make (and continue to make). 
Now ask: How can I avoid making bad decisions?
The patterns you have developed. 
Now ask: How can I create positive new patterns in my life?
The people you surround yourself with. Now ask: How can I surround myself with healthy individuals?
Reflecting on those questions with some wise folk is a good step in getting you out of the weeds.

I guess there is a silver lining in everything as Toxicodendron radicans taught me so many lessons about sin. Hopefully, I am wise enough to avoid BOTH in the future. 

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