There is a dense thicket of trees and bushes in the far back line of our property that is visited more by four-legged creatures than the curious human. However, as fairly new occupants of our home, our family has noticed through exploration that previous owners have started a few trails, arranged some sitting spots from trees stumps and even built a treehouse along one of the curving footpaths.

As we were taking a recent walk through this area, my husband made another observation. “These spikey vines have strangled many of our trees! Look at this,” he said as he reached to one of the vines and began separating it from the choking grasp it had upon a small tree. Aptly named, this swiftly climbing vine is often referred to as a blaspheme vine. These vines can grow up to 16 feet or more in height, twisting their stubborn stems around whatever it lands upon, grabbing hold of it with unforgiving thorns.

As he tugged upon the vine, the small tree snapped. “Ugh, by the way the tree looked, I was afraid that would happen. The tree has been compromised to the point of death.”

Hmm. This reminds me of mankind. We are like these trees in the thicket. We grow in Christ, sometimes watching others’ sin wrap around us; other times, watching our own sin choke us. There comes a day when we realize we have compromised our witness. We are to the point of death, once again. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We begin with the best of intentions until we realize our best intentions usually don’t lead to the peace and joy we ultimately planned. We were created for something more than what this temporary world has to offer. Even so, many live as if this world is everything while existing with an insatiable ulcer that no emotional balm or physical attainment can permanently soothe. Indeed, we are both living and dying simultaneously. It is all so temporary; yet, we can satisfy and sustain our desires if we surrender to our eternal longings.

In our pursuit for something more, we run into the one who has been pursuing us all along: Christ Jesus.

Paul said, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:18, 24-25).

Because of our imperfect nature, we are all in need of not just a savior, but of the savior: Christ Jesus.

Rescue us from ourselves, dear Lord! May we keep strong in you, even when the effects of living in a fallen world fall upon us. And may we stay so rooted God’s truths that the barbed vines of Satan dull in the presence of God’s power. Help us to not compromise our witness, but remain firm in faith and generous in your example of love. Amen.

SGLY, dear readers.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer and an opinion columnist. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at news@ amtrib. com. Follow Chartier on Face - book: facebook. com/ tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffany chartier