|Chinese Bittersweet behind Will. Notice the red berries and the snapped off Willow.|
Lately I have been cutting down Sumac trees for firewood. Back in Jackson, Minnesota, where I grew up, they grow to about 5-10 feet tall and have about 1”-3” trunks. We look at them as mostly a bush. Here in the bluff country on the other hand, they grow as high as 20-30 feet tall and have as much as a 8-9 inch trunk at their base. The reason though that I am cutting them into firewood is that they are either dead or dying.
|Chinese Bittersweet spreading.|
In this isolated area of the woods, we have an infestation of Chinese Bittersweet. It is a beautiful vine that many think, looks wonderful as a wreath at Christmas. In fact, I have seen people come in and harvest them for that purpose. They are unknowingly spreading the vine to other locations. The Department of Agriculture told me that they believe that is how it came into our nearby forest. Someone in a nearby cemetery brought the wreath of vines for a grave decoration. The birds took the red berries and spread it from there. It is a vine that wraps itself around trees and overcomes it with its leaves and vines, and many times causes it to even bend the tree over until it is dead. Since Sumac grows in well-lighted areas, such as around the timber trails, the Bittersweet is choosing its victims (Sumac) to kill first. It then grows with underground shoots to other trees nearby.
|Chinese Bittersweet growing up toward the nearest tree. At first we thought it was beautiful in the shape of a hummingbird, but within a month it was wrapped around the nearby tree.|
I have made an agreement with the nearby landowner to keep his timber trail open first and then I am allowed to harvest other dead trees for firewood. Right now I have cleared the timber trail as far as I can go and the job, at times, seems overwhelming. The Department of Agriculture along with the University of Minnesota are slowly trying to eradicate this noxious vine for some time now, but funding is limited, and unfortunately, the vine is spreading at an alarming rate. If you see it growing around your area, destroy it. To me it is pure evil and it survives by destroying the bushes and trees around it.
|Chinese Bittersweet covered in snow.|
I see this plant as a parallel to sin in our lives. It looks pretty on the outside and we are attracted to it by its outward beauty, but when we take hold of it and make it ours, it destroys the good in us, and when it is done with us, it spreads to others around us. This is somewhat a radical perspective, but sin is just that, sin. God gives us eyes to see what it really is and helps us in our struggles when attracted to sin’s lures.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
|Chinese Bittersweet covering the Sumac.|
Sometimes we want to take sin home with us and make it into to something beautiful and lovely, but in the end, we cannot change its nature. It then becomes something that we never would have thought it could be. Like the Chinese Bittersweet, sin destroys.
Lord, please help us to see with your eyes and your heart the areas of sin in our lives, and help us to become pleasing in your sight.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
If God is speaking to you, listen to him and accept him as your savior. Ask him into your heart. If you are a Christian and God is speaking to you about a sin in your life, ask him for wisdom and strength to turn from sin’s grip and he will give it to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:11 So, we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.