"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..." Romans 1:20

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Into the Woods: Vines

We have a lot of English ivy in our woods.   It looks like we have an evergreen forest in the winter because of all the ivy climbing up the trees.  With our woods clean-up in full swing we've been going through and cutting and pulling off the ivy and other vines where we can....

That thick curly-cue-like vine I think is called Liana.  It does not appear to have leaves or berries on it.  It's usually found in the tropics and animals (and Tarzan) use these vines to travel through the tree tops.  How it got in our woods I have no idea.  This is what it looks like at ground level....

I've allowed the ivy to cover the hill along the walkway around my house because it smothers out grass and weeds and stays green all winter.  But it has taken over other gardens I did not intend it to, covering my rock walls.  I'm constantly cutting it back.  In the woods, however, the trees, as you can see, have been sorely neglected.   

Jesus used vines to explain how He is the vine and we are the branches. He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. " I'm guessing He was thinking of grapevines since wine was the preferred drink at the time.  A grapevine is different from an ivy vine.  A grapevine is only rooted in the ground and receives all its sustenance through this main vine.  Branches grow off the vine and from there bear fruit.  Ivy, on the other hand, will root every few inches.  It will use these tiny roots to cling to a tree, girdling young trees as the vine grows thicker, and eventually toppling the tree from too much weight.  You can cut an ivy vine, but any of the rootlets along the ground will continue to sustain the vine.

God does not want us to be like ivy.  Ivy is a parasite when it clings to objects it shouldn't--like trees and brick houses and stone walls.  God wants us to be like the branches of a grapevine where we get all our nourishment from the vine, firmly rooted in God, bearing good fruit to share with others.

All too easily in our modern society we forget Who our Source is.  There are too many "middlemen" between us and our earthly sustenance.  Everything is made for us.  There was a time when man "lived off the land" whether it was growing food to eat or make clothing, or using trees and field stone to make our houses and barns.  He felt his dependency, keenly, on the weather and other factors he had no control over.  Depending on God felt more natural.  Today we think that the transport, or the grocer, or the farmer is responsible for feeding us.  And if we don't have enough cash, we use our credit cards to buy what we need.  

Recently I watched a BBC production called The Victorian Farm in which the participants lived and farmed as though it was the 1880's.  Even with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, farming was still very much hands-on.  It really impressed on me how hard people had to work in order to live.  While our woods do not provide us sustenance, the labor it requires to maintain it helps me at least to stay fit.  Today people are feeling the effects (such as excess weight, unhealthy stress, and estrangement from community) of this distancing from day-to-day hands-on provision of what we need in order to survive.  The worst toll, I believe, is it has lulled us into forgetting how dependent we really are on God for everything.  

Father, thank you for all the conveniences modern life affords me, but do not let me grow complacent and forget that You are the One Who Provides.  

Link to scripture:  John 15: 1-8

Take action:  What does it mean to abide in Christ?


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