This afternoon, I took a walk. I was bundled up against the winter’s cold and keeping a watch out for songbirds, camera in hand. Yes, I did find songbirds ... and I’m sure you’ll see those pics with another post at some point.
But instead, this is the pic from my walk today that I decided to share. Do you recognize the vine climbing up the tree?
Most people can’t name the vine, but it’s hairy nature is a dead giveaway – it is a poison ivy vine.
Now, here’s the thing. It is the middle of winter here. People aren’t really thinking about poison ivy when they are out for a walk. All the easily-recognized “leaves of three – let them be” have fallen off the vine, obscuring the plant’s true nature.
But urushiol, which causes the all-too-familiar poison ivy rash, is still present. All you need to do is brush against this vine unknowingly or touch its hairy tendrils out of curiosity and you will soon be itching away.
We’ve got a lesson here (as you may have guessed!). Just as poison ivy doesn’t “take time off,” so temptation doesn’t take time off. We are on high alert for poison ivy during the warmer months. In the winter, we let our guard down – but the danger is still there. Similarly, we might be on high alert about temptation in certain circumstances, then let our guard down later on – but the danger is still there.
For example, you might be vigilant about what movies you see at the cinema to avoid putting impure sexual thoughts into your mind. But are you equally careful about what magazines your eye wanders over in the supermarket aisle? Are you watchful about the commercials that come on during the sports game?
How about if you have a temper that easily flares up? You might be on your guard at work or at church to keep a lid on it, but what about when you are alone on the road and someone cuts you off?
My friends, poison ivy is never dormant. The poison is always present – waiting for an ignorant or accidental touch. Sin is like that, too. We must always be on guard. Temptation doesn’t take time off.
“Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11