An oasis in the desert our backyard is not, but it does have two apple trees. Apple trees that get inundated by birds and ants and worms (and yes, half a worm in your apple is far worse). So we wrapped the trunks in sticky tape (for the ants) and wrapped the tree in fine netting (for the birds). Our apple season is over so I removed the netting from ONE of our fruit trees this morning. I don’t really want to admit how long it took me (or how many leaves the poor tree lost), but it did let me think…for a while.
From the kitchen window the netting is hardly visible (which is kind of a bummer because you can’t really tell I did anything by removing it). It isn’t until you get closer that you can see that the new growth has threaded itself through the fine mesh that envelopes the tree. So, the bottom was easy but the top was terrible -- I had to cut it off around each individual shoot (or just pull off all the leaves that had grown on top of the net). It was a painful process. And interestingly, the net that was hardly visible in a single layer became a huge tangled, black ball as I pulled and rolled it off our little tree.
That netting is like sin. It seems like a good idea… at first. It’s just a small thing…at the beginning. No can really even see it… except God. You hear Him saying, “Child, stop that. It is not okay.” But you press on, justifying yourself, and growing the best you can – but that pet sin is pinning you down. And you keep going. No one else can even tell there is anything wrong until they get close and realize – like our tree struggling to do what God created it to do underneath our net – you have a problem. A problem that, sooner or later, you have to deal with.
But getting that sin out of your life is like getting that net off. It is a rough, drawn out process. That sin has grown into who you are. And removing it hurts. You need help, and even then leaves get torn and ripped off. Sometimes you even lose a branch. If only someone had told you it would get this bad, that it would be this painful to get free of it… Oh, yeah, Someone did. The same Someone Who is now patiently removing the net – He told you not to mess with it in the first place. Oh, yeah.
But as Jeremiah said, those who have survived the sword have found grace. “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” – Jeremiah 31:3
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.