Surrounding our patio are numerous azalea bushes. Every spring our patio is a gorgeous painting of white, red, pink, and reddish orange blooms. For me, it’s breathtaking to look at each morning. God is truly an artist.
The bushes to the far left of our patio though were struggling. They were not filled out with blooms and the green leaves seemed sparse. They looked puny next to the healthier bushes. Why? I did not have an answer because I am not a plant person. Come to find out, a friend of mine was, and she knew the problem right away. You have ivy growing under the bushes and it’s killing them. You’ve got to remove it.
When I was removing the ivy a thought occurred to me that there is a spiritual lesson in this azalea renewal effort. Sometimes we will have dead places in our life. It might be the sizzle in our marriage is gone. Our prayer life has gone lost its vitality. Perhaps we’ve buried our dreams and think there is no life left. Maybe we carry the dead weight of guilt from past mistakes and relationships. The result is we are weighed down, strangled, and slowly dying an ugly death when we should be blooming and amazing.
So, how do you deal with the “ivy” in your life that is slowly killing you? Here are some suggestions.
1. Identify the “ivy.” What is causing the dead area in your life? What is causing your marriage to be stale? Why is your prayer life struggling? The dead part is just the symptom of the actual cause. If you don’t pull out the “ivy” then you will keep dealing with this problem over and over again.
2. Prune out the “dead” places. With my azalea bush I pruned out all the dead branches so the good branches can grow. The same goes with us. We have to prune out the dead weight. If it’s guilt then we need to get rid of it through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. If there is dead weight in a relationship, with failed expectations, then they must be forgiven and worked out between the parties. Sin is a deadly practice. It must be cut out so life can bloom in your soul. Jesus said “(God) cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be more fruitful.” John15:2 (NIV)
3. Nurture the living part back to health. With the azalea bush time will be needed to come back to health. It will need some fertilizer, water, and patience to grow back. The same is true with us. Once you have removed the vine and the dead places then you need to nurture healthy practices back into your life. Healthy practices in relationships include compassion, humility, considerate of others, forgiveness, and love.
I’m confident my azalea bush is coming back if I continue to nurture it and not ignore it.