They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4:18-19 (ESV)
I’m aware of the deception, but I make no effort to resist.
Mesmerized by the large and glossy, heart-shaped leaves that flourish in summer’s rainy season, I focus my camera on the vines twisting into tight cords that drape the thickets along the edge of the creek and cling to tree trunks and palmetto fronds in massive columns of lush August greens. Dangling from the limbs of scrub oaks and pines, the vines sway in late summer’s breezes to the cicadas’ incessant chirps – transforming the creek bank into a mysterious and enchanting forest.
It’s misplaced affection – my delight in capturing the twining air potato vine – an invasive and noxious non-native. Growing as much as 8 inches a day and up to 70 feet long in Florida’s subtropical climate, it chokes out native vegetation, destroying the habitat of native wildlife – like the gopher turtle, red fox and bobcat. Soil and plant scientists are challenged to discover ways to prevent the spread and eventually eradicate the lovely, but destructive air potato vine.
The lesson from scripture doesn’t escape me. The air potato vine may create a charming and exotic southern display, but it’s beauty is deceitful and the potatoes it produces are bitter poison – like the “riches and the desires for other things” that “choke the word” and “proves unfruitful.”
The air potato vine begs me to plead, LORD, show me where I’m being deceived. Wrest me of the seeds of “riches” before they take root, and destroy the vines that entangle my heart, strangle my prayer life, choke the word, and produce bitter fruit.
LORD, may my affection for and delight in beauty be satisfied in Christ alone.
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