Dad’s Tools: Poison Ivy or Virginia Creeper?

Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV

I love this time of year because it’s so much fun to see the forest come back to life. Because I’m very allergic to poison ivy, my eyes are trained to look for those leaves as I walk through woods or wild areas. Almost every time I point out poison ivy, someone will say, “Oh, show me, I’m not sure what it looks like.” This happed last weekend in my own backyard. We have a tree with two vines climbing up close together. One is Virginia Creeper (5 leaf clusters on the left) the other is poison ivy (3 leaf clusters on the right). When I announced my discovery, Hannah wanted to come see…
It strikes me that there are some spiritual lessons here:

  1. I can touch the Virginia Creeper all day long with no reaction or side effects. But, if I touch that poison ivy I’ll be scratching wildly in a few days. This reminds me that Satan will often use trickery to make something that’s really bad for us, look almost identical to something that’s not harmful at all.
  2. Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy look very similar if you do not know the differences. If you are not alert, watchful and ready to change your course, you could walk right into a trap that Satan has set for you.
  3. If I touch the poison ivy…I won’t itch right away. The effects of my error don’t show up for a few days. As I scratch and apply hydrocortisone cream, I ask myself, “Where did I come in contact with poison ivy?” The effects of sin can be similar.

This is why I’ve learned to be vigilant. I can identify the danger because my eye has been trained to look for it. When I see it. I change direction, use extreme caution on high alert, or eradicate the source. This is something we should do with the temptations and traps that Satan sets for us.

So, here’s a challenge for you dad. Find a spot in your yard, a nearby park or a patch of woods that has both poison ivy and Virginia creeper. (Check out this article that compares Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper) Share this lesson with your children in your own words. Give some examples of the types of traps they could fall in to by sharing some of your own stories. Make sure you talk about how you’ve learned, by God’s grace, to recognize and avoid some of Satan’s traps.