Spiritual Poison Ivy
John Telgren

I had no idea what hit me. It started out with a little red spot on my upper left cheek. It felt slightly itchy. People thought it was a bruise. I have to admit, it looked kind of like a bruise, but I had no idea where it came from. I woke up a couple of mornings later to find that my eye was swollen shut. I also noticed the same red stuff was all over my arm. I called the doctor. She thought it was poison ivy. I thought that was crazy. I was sure it was not poison ivy. I hadn't been in the woods or around any brush lately. She treated it as poison ivy, and gradually it went away.

A couple of weeks later, my parents visited. My mom found a bunch of poison ivy behind the house and eradicated it. I had no idea what the stuff looked like. I then remembered that I had gone around the edge of the house and cut down small trees growing around the foundation that were obviously seeded by bird droppings. It was around one of those trees my mom found the poison ivy. So it was poison ivy after all. I should have listened to the doctor. I should have also listened to my mom who tried to teach me what poison ivy looked like when I was growing up.

A few weeks later, I had someone who knew what it looked like to point it out to me and teach me what to look for. After all, I was going to be a camp counselor and wanted to be able to spot it so I could keep the kids away from it.

We need to be aware of spiritual poison ivy as well. We are surrounded by things that appear innocuous, but are in fact full of poison that can spread through our lives. This is why we need to listen to the sources of wisdom in our lives to learn what these subtle but deadly poisons are. We need to read the scriptures. We need to learn from those who have more experience than we do. We need to read devotional literature, journals, and wisdom of those who have gone before us.

"But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb 5:14).

We need to have our senses trained to discern between good and evil so we can identify the poisons around us. There is the culturally accepted view that anything is okay so long as it doesn't hurt someone. There is the worldly wisdom that says lying and deception are acceptable as long as you get what you want and no one gets hurt. There is the subtle message in the media that adults are uptight, backwards, paranoid, and out of touch, while kids are free, open-minded, and smart. Yes, the poisons abound, and if you are not careful, they will get into your system and infect your mind and heart before you know it.