Poison Ivy And Lessons Learned

More than three weeks ago I got a terrible, horrible case of poison ivy. Danny had poison oak from cutting down some trees on the property, so I was pretty sure that was what I had, but it was ivy not oak.

I wouldn't wish poison anything on anybody. Not only does it cause itching and fever, it hangs on for as long as it can, and there's very little you can do about it.

Truth be told, I was out berry picking when I got it. We have dozens upon dozens of berry bushes on our property, but the best-looking ones weren't right on the path, they were in the next section back. So after pushing and pulling and cutting my way through the closest bushes, I was able to get back to those really great berries behind them.

I employ the famous two-one method for berry picking - two for me, one of the bucket. Works for me, and there plenty to make a cake and some jam.

But within hours, I knew I had a problem. The itching and bumps came out almost immediately. It took two weeks of Benadryl and two bottles of Tech-nu to get it under control, but I'm almost done with the whole process.

So here's what I learned about berry picking and poison ivy:

- If I had on the path, I wouldn't have this problem. Danny mows the trails, so there was no real reason to be traipsing through the forest. I just wanted to, and that's how I encountered the poison ivy.

- I should have been satisfied with the berries on the bushes in the front, but I wanted to get a full bucket. It was really more than I needed at one time, but they looked so good and I wanted more. This multiplied the opportunities to touch the poison ivy, multiplying the amount of pain and itch I would be in later.

- When you reach in to grab the berry, you're fine. It's when you pull your hand out that the thorns grab on. My arms, even through a long-sleeved shirt, were covered in little cuts, and that doubled (at least) my poison ivy spreading.

I had a handful of people say to me afterwards that there are some definite spiritual applications here. I saw them right away, and even added one to the list.

- If you stay on the path, you won't encounter the problems you will if you stray away. Psalm 119:105 says Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. The Word keeps you on the path, and the light will only shine on the path. When you get off course, you venture away from the light. There are plenty of wonderful experiences on the path, and staying there will keep you both safe and fed.

- If you're not satisfied with what you have along God's path, you often get more than you bargained for. It's a strait and narrow path (Matthew 7) for a reason - it gives you boundaries and direction. When you venture off, you end up scratched and bruised. You encounter trials and tribulations that never would have happened in the middle of the path. Stay with the stuff and stay on the path.

- Sin looks great when you're heading toward it. It's a very visual thing, like Eve and the fruit in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3). But when you're trying to get away, the thorns come out, and you realize the terrible situation that you've gotten yourself into. Staying away from those new, beautiful, shiny things that lead us away from the Lord will protect us from situations we never should have been in in the first place.

I've learned a lot the past few weeks, and despite the occasional episode of itching as my skin heals, I'm doing just fine.


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