I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
Who among us can say that a little back-scratching does not come amiss at times? Perhaps that is how the young tree felt when the first tendril of ivy began to creep up and cling to its trunk. Perhaps it welcomed it at first, perhaps appreciated its company! Little did it know at the time what was in store.
The tree became more conscious of the presence of the ivy as it felt its roots gradually penetrating the bark. As the ivy snakes its way up, its evergreen leaves spread like a mantle over the leaves of the supporting tree. There is a gradual inch by inch take-over, until in time more of the ivy can be seen than the tree itself.
Soon the sunlight cannot penetrate the thickness of ivy leaf to reach the leaves. In addition, the tree discovers that its leaves cannot breathe any more. And that is the beginning of the end. Its days are numbered.
All green plants have their life support from two sources. The roots derive nourishment from the soil, and the leaves breathe in carbon dioxide from sunlight. The tree turns these elements into supporting nutrients. But both soil and sun are essential. Even if roots prosper, all plants die if denied light.
Near us in Ceunant y Felin (‘Mill Gorge’) there are examples of tall, strong trees having fallen headlong, all dead wood. Once ivy gets a hold it respects neither strength nor beauty. The tree now has no value or use, except as firewood perhaps. But, ironically, when the dead tree falls, in one tangled mass, it brings down the ivy too.
The Evil One tries to take over our lives, offering pleasure and happiness. Sin is anything that seeks to rule our lives, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be drugs, the lust of the ﬂesh, or materialism or just plain self-centredness — anything that allures and enslaves. Its purpose is to bring us down or to spoil our usefulness to God. It seeks to stop the light of heaven shining upon us lest we realize the truth about ourselves and our sin. Thank God for the miracle of grace which has the power to break into our lives and shine in our darkness.
Sanctify us, Lord, and bless,
Breathe Thy Spirit, give Thy peace;
Come and dwell within each heart,
Light, and life, and joy impart.
Jesus sent Paul to the Gentiles ‘to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’ (Acts 26:18).
Mari Jones, When Swallows Return