Kudzu

 kudzu           I spent some time in the mid-south this week.  One morning while running, I passed an entire field covered with kudzu. 

            Kudzu is a vine originally imported from Asia for ground cover and to prevent erosion. It grows very, very fast. So…left unchecked, kudzu sort of morphs into the vine that ate the South. It cannot be stopped easily and often, takes over hillsides, crawling up utility poles, covering sheds, billboards, highway signs and anything else in its path.

            It can be helpful.  But sometimes, even healthy fields can be choked out by the kudzu. 

            That got me wondering…is there a sort of soul kudzu that can grow deep inside me? Places where something starts out with good intention, but left unchecked, begins to choke out what is good?

            For instance, I really want to manage my time more effectively.  But while gaining more space in my day, I become less patient with people when things last longer than I expect. Kudzu.

            I plan to watch less television, eat more fruit, read more books or some other positive life change. But I become really irritating about it, constantly reminding others when I choose it and pointing out when they don’t.  Kudzu.

            I volunteer to take on an extra project at work when downsizing puts everybody in a pinch.  But then I seethe with resentment when the whole team gets the credit or there’s no bonus offered. Kudzu.

            I want to connect with my kids through their participation in sports leagues—soccer, basketball, football, etc. But my competitive juices and love for my children make me yell at game officials or make snide comments about the coach’s decisions. Kudzu.

            I decide to take another step in my relationship with God by more prayer, study of God’s Word or service.  But I become proud of how I’m turning out, maybe even a little spiritually smug, quietly sure that God sure is lucky to have me on his team.  Kudzu.

            I think of myself as a gracious and forgiving person. But personal offense and hurt is a potent alchemy, and sometimes it feels less draining to hold the grudge than to offer forgiveness. (Feels, not is) Kudzu.

            Suddenly, I feel itchy. 

            How do I battle creeping soul kudzu?  Prayer and God’s Word applied (Psalm 119:128) both starves out the weeds and applies Miracle-Gro to the fruit of the Spirit.  Kudzu will not leave by my hard work- even in a positive spiritual direction.  It will be killed by the superior life of the gospel of grace flowing through our souls, transforming us from “one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor.3:14)

            I sure pray by the end of this summer, I’ll see more fruit and less kudzu.

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