Positively poisonous

Written by, Van Walton -
My friend Wendy brought her children and their friends to my house for several hours of play in the backyard pool. We chatted while they entertained themselves. I remember observing young Griffin’s curious mind as he ventured into the woods. His busy and energetic body refused to adapt to the games the other children wanted to play. Following his heart, he crept out of the pool and found purpose after strolling around the yard. For a few minutes he handed branches to my husband, helping him feed the chipper. Then he picked up a rake. In no time he began to change the landscape. He cleared a path for my dog and piled leaves creating a soft bed. He set stones in place creating a protected space for the food dish and water bowl.
What an industrious boy! He amazed me with his vision, strength, and positive attitude. I wanted him to come live with me - surely his presence would keep the atmosphere in my home lively. I remember thinking, “What a good boy!” When he completed his project he asked, “Would you like to see what I did?” In single-file we followed him, listening attentively as he pointed out each accomplished task.
Then I spotted it. I never expected to find what I stumbled upon while admiring my newly landscaped yard. My delighted heart turned to dread, for there surrounding all of Griffin’s hard work … was Poison Ivy! My countenance grimaced and my stomach flip-flopped.
Innocently, without suspecting, Griffin had walked through a bed of nasty plants. Never mind that he was involved in good works or that He had done nothing wrong. He had not purposefully stepped into a bad place. It just so happened that the vine had crawled along the ground, hiding under dead leaves and climbing tree trunks, camouflaged by other clingy vegetation.
We had no idea whether Griffin had come in contact with the poisonous plant. Regardless, we had to devise a plan to protect him from the outcome: miserable days filled with an itchy rash. I grabbed Wendy and told her to get Griffin into the tub. Mixing a concoction we hoped would bring relief; we doused that unsuspecting boy, hoping to rid him of any residue that might leave its painful mark.

This devotional really brought home the fact that every day we wake up and step out into life with a plan to accomplish our goals. Whether it involves work, school or play, we set out to do good things, to make some type of impact on the world or at the very least, upon those within our influence. And many times, unbeknownst to us, lying just below the surface or around the corner, temptation and sin can be lying in wait, looking to grab hold of us and spread its poison all over our best-laid plans. The author goes on to say, ‘We need to know and teach our children what poisonous plants look like. But even more, we need to teach them to recognize sin and run from it. Even a minor brush with sin can leave its poisonous mark.’ We need to teach our children not only how to identify sin, but also the practicality of how to avoid it. Now, with a poisonous plant that’s easy, you familiarize yourself with what it looks like, then just walk around it making sure you give it a wide berth. But with sin, we live in a world where wrong is right and right is wrong and everywhere we go, we find ourselves inundated by visuals and sounds, situations and ideas that tempt us almost on a constant basis…and yet, we are called to be in this dark world and not separate ourselves from it, but this is a fine, razors edge to walk.

This hadn’t become quite so obvious and real to me until a few weeks ago when I was talking to Brittany. This is her first semester at college and she was struggling with not having met any new friends. For the first week, night after night she would sit on her bed in her dorm room, not doing anything, so I was pushing her to get out…meet people…make friends. She kept telling me that everyone was so worldly, that she wanted to make Christian friends and I kept telling her, to not isolate herself…to reach out, take the opportunities that she has to meet new people and let God use her. But she was persistent, and wasn’t budging on it. Honestly, I became a little frustrated with her and kept pressing her back…until I asked her what the deal was and she said she was afraid. That surprised me…it wasn’t like Britt to be afraid of rejection, so I asked her what was she afraid of and she told me she was afraid of succumbing to the pressures of sin. In the struggle to be accepted and ‘fit-in’, she was afraid that if she didn’t surround herself with a core group of believers, she might very well compromise her own beliefs. WOW…and here I was ‘tossing’ her into a patch of poison ivy without any protection! Now, I still do believe that she shouldn’t seal herself off and make ONLY Christian friends, but I can’t argue with the wisdom she’s showing in building a foundational support system, before branching out!

I Peter 5:8 ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’

Hebrews 12:1 ‘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.’

~ V


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