Pretend you’re a tree—young, growing proud rings of bone and muscle. Life is good, and everything likes you—birds, squirrels, even this small, supple plant at your ankles, waving its little tentacle cheerily. Soon it’s loving on your leg, then wrapping multiple arms around your limbs, keeping you warm, decorating you with its beautiful orange berries.
Prettier than a Christmas tree! Soon, though, you find yourself breathing with difficulty. . . Um, my friend . . . could you maybe back off just a little? I’m . . . quite warm enough now (cough, cough).
But it pays you no mind, just grows tighter . . . and tighter . . . and soon . . . life is . . . gone, your skeleton held upright only by this monster VINE.
Oriental bittersweet—Celastrus orbiculatus. A nasty invasive brought to the US in the 1800s. It overruns natural vegetation, strangling shrubs and small trees. Beautiful berries, yes, especially in wreaths, but those berries make lots of babies, and the plague marches across the land, tentacle by grasping tentacle.
A nightmare for trees and shrubs. But what predatory vines do we find growing in our own lives? Mine is busyness. Email tasks, book/writing tasks, computer tasks, church tasks, phone calls I should be making. . . My vine binds me to an endless cycle of work.
Is there hope? Of course. First, though, I need to deal with WHY I’m busy. Am I serving God through all this work or serving self? Adam and Eve dumped me in this jungle of life, but Christ Jesus cut the vine at its roots, and I can be free from its strangling power—now and forever. And I will intentionally trust the Lord of Impossible Tasks for this days’s strength.
Okay—I’ve spoken my viney addiction. What’s your nightmare?