We had come to do battle that day with the kudzu—that sprawling weed that covered everything out back at my grandmother’s house. Its spreading tendrils had taken over, suppressing cypress trees and mangroves down by the lake’s edge, cutting off all things living from the light, slowly suffocating them like a boa constrictor squeezing the breath out of its victim.
As my grandmother got older, she couldn’t battle with the kudzu anymore and it was slowly morphing her beautiful lake-view into that of a giant green sea monster. After a while of pulling on the tendrils, even with gloves, our hands began to look like they had rope burn. An afternoon’s labor later in the hot Florida sun, and we had still hardly made a dent in the green leviathan. Still to this day, I think of kudzu like a swear word—vile, hateful stuff.
And perhaps that’s why kudzu also seems a fitting analogy—in my mind at least—to sin, and to the far-reaching effects of the Fall of man. You see when Adam and Eve chose to trust their own judgment over God’s perfect, infinite, and loving care, the effects of their sin spread like kudzu. Everything in this world is covered in its grasping tentacles. Sickness, death, poverty, war, violence, alienation—this is kudzu, smothering the good and the beautiful.
And so when hardship comes my way (last week in the form of stomach flu– the sequel–striking at my house, knotting the insides of my poor 13 month old), while I’m always grieved by it, I’m not necessarily surprised. I expect hardship. I expect the repercussions of the Fall to have very long tendrils, a reach that still covers over the good and beautiful in my world today. Now when I say this, I don’t mean I expect God to bring evil my way—God is not the author of evil (James 1:13, 1 John 1:5, 1 Corinthians 14:33). No, the burden of evil in this world lies on the shoulders of fallen creatures: the fallen angels, Adam and Eve, our forebearerers, and yes, us.
But while I expect the hardship of this world—estrangement, cancer, slander, greed, natural disasters, hypocrisy, both the big and the small—I also live in hope. God did not leave this leviathan unchecked. He sent his Son on a mission to rescue this world from the tendrils of sin. He’s cutting back every last suffocating coil of sin and tossing it on the trash-heap to be burned, purged away. He has not abandoned us; He is actively slaying sin’s tentacles and asking us to join with Him in releasing this world from sin’s death-grip. And while now we still do battle with the long arms of sin, covering so much of all we hold dear, one day all those weeds will be burned away. All creation holds its breath, waiting, for that day of release. (Romans 8:18-23). We groan together with creation longing for that day.
We’ve lost Eden’s memory of what this world looked like before the Fall. But one day vistas of beauty and wholeness of rest and restoration will stretch out before our eyes like a dazzling dream we had forgotten. We will wake to a world released, to a world made new.
Dear Reader, where have you seen Christ cut away the kudzu in your world? Where does it remain? Are you longing for that day of ultimate release? Are you co-laboring with Christ now to release the beauty in the world around you?