The Wisteria Tree
We recently had to do some yard work to plant some privacy trees in our backyard. When we bought the house in spring, we noticed a beautiful wisteria tree in the back. It was in full bloom and gorgeous. Later, in the hot Florida summer, we had to keep cutting vines from the wisteria tree constantly crawling towards our home. We began to notice how it was wrapping itself around all the other trees in the yard and starting to choke the life out of these trees.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided we needed to trim the tree and clear out this unattractive area of our backyard. OH MY WORD! That tree had not only wound its way around every fence post, tree limb, and bush within its ever reaching arms, but it had wound its way underground! Clinging to anything and everything in its path with vice-like claws. Everywhere we tried to clear would lead to more entanglement where we began to feel trapped in a huge man-size spider web! Everywhere we tried to dig we would run into these nasty thick vines and when Buddy would try and pull them up, he only ran into more vines making it impossible to clear it all.
The tree reminded me of the subtlety of sin. The temptation is beautiful at first, flowery, fragrant, appealing in every way. It urges us towards it, to take in its fragrance, to admire its beauty and we play and frolic underneath its flowery branches. Before we know it, one single vine has wrapped itself around us. We feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit and we cut it back. We do a little maintenance work and seemingly keep it under control. One little look, one little deception, but it keeps crawling toward us, and we give in again because we have not been obedient to God by knowing the only solution is to let God cut the tree down and uproot it. Our rationalization of the sin begins and the vines start taking over every aspect of our lives weaving around our relationships, our jobs, our health, and mostly our relationship with God. We suddenly want to avoid any instruction, or chastisement. When sin has fully taken over and has caused us to fall flat on our faces, we begin to try and clear it out, only to realize that it is much harder work because it has entwined itself around our entire lives. But we try and clear ourselves out of the vines and we stumble and fall, or we try to plant new growth in our lives and every time we dig, we run into the roots of guilt and shame of what we have allowed to happen in our lives. We are deceived to think we need to clear away all the ugly roots before coming to God for help. Every time we try, we fall and stumble.
You see, what I realized in trying to clear that wisteria tree is that there was no way Buddy and I were going to clear that whole tree. The only thing that could clear that tree was something far bigger and stronger than we were. Shame and guilt will convince us that we can’t turn to God to get us out of the mess we have made. The bible says in Isaiah 30:15 speaking to the rebellious children of Israel, he tells them how to come back to God. But they don’t listen.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
He continues in relaying the consequences of their rebellion into captivity.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee! (Trying to outrun captivity)
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” (fear and intimidation)
But then this loving and compassionate scripture appears and God tries to woo them back again to the beauty of relationship with Him.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
Therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
I heard someone say that sin is simply mistrust in God, to not trust Him to provide, or make us happy, or to satisfy us, something in our life where we don’t trust Him to fulfill our desires. First of all, it’s hard to trust someone you don’t know. Knowing God requires relationship and not just a sinner’s prayer to escape hell, but after we come to know God, to build that relationship with Him through prayer and His Word. That’s another topic for another day. But back to the verse,
“The Lord longs to be gracious to you, therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.” Please hear this. All we have to do is turn around from our sin, and God is right there with open arms ready to heal us and strike down that which entangles us. All we have to do is repent, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Hebrews 12 tells us,
“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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
I have been in the midst of rebellion in an area of my life lately and God has been revealing to me where I have not trusted Him. I have loved many of Beth Moore’s quotes, but this one hit me this morning. “Once we have obeyed God, we can do nothing more. We then wait on Him to bring the victory; knowing that the consequences of our obedience are His problems and not ours.” Sometimes obedience looks like it will bring nothing but negative consequences, but that is the lie of satan, God will turn it around, we just have to trust Him. Trust HIM and let’s run this race.