CUTTIN’ KUDZU                                                                                                                               Andy Hollifield 9-4-17

Genesis 3:17-19  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18)  Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Phillipians 2:12 “….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..”

That scripture in Genesis explains a whole lot doesn’t it?  I thought of it many times when I was dripping sweat off of the end of my nose and also when it was running into my eyes.  I thought of Adam and even Eve but especially Adam.  Yeah, I thought about him alright; I thought of how at that moment I would like to have punched him right in the mouth!  I know that is not very spiritual but when you are cutting kudzu with a swingblade on a bank with no shade in the middle of summer; you aren’t exactly real spiritual.  While you’re out there in the sun, you envy Jonah.  At least he had a gourd to sit under.  You wind up with a lot more you have to repent of than what you had when you started.

I guess I should start at the beginning since it already looks like I am backslid.  I was raised in Martel Village on a lot that I thought was the kudzu capital of the world.  On top of that bank was where I learned to work and work hard.  I didn’t have to go work out as a kid, all I had to do was grab the swingblade and rake out of the basement.  You’ve heard the saying “what don’t kill you makes you stronger;”  a lot of times I thought it was going to do both.  I don’t guess that I had ever paid any attention to kudzu before and may not have ever seen it.  I don’t remember any on the head of Herron Cove in suburban Weaverville.  I remember plenty of honeysuckle but not kudzu.

I had just turned 8 when we moved to the village in May of ’73.  There behind that old 2 story mill house was a bank that was probably 8 feet tall and partly flat on top and covered with the fasted growing, toughest weed, known to man; kudzu.  You cannot kill that stuff.  I remember asking dad what it was.  It didn’t take too long for me to find out.  There for the first year or two, he taught us how to handle a swingblade without gashing our leg open.  We worked out there with him of the evenings clearing that bank.  I would have been content to let it grow, if for no other reason because it was good for hide and seek.  You crawl in there to hide and you could see everybody but nobody could see you.  But unfortunately, dad didn’t play hide and seek so we helped clean it off.  Along about the time my brother had just turned 12 years old, dad came home with a 20 gauge shotgun and told him that if he worked 30 hours and got that bank cleared off, he could have that gun.  If I remember correctly, I didn’t have to help him while he was working for that gun.  I thought that was a great idea until the next year when I turned 12.  That year, Jim didn’t have to help me.  But here I am 40 years later and after having survived 30 hours of agony, I still have that little cheap 22 rifle that I literally gave blood, sweat, and tears to get.  It ain’t worth much to anyone else but it is a treasure to me.  I guess it was the first thing I ever worked to get is why it is so special.

Now I know this hasn’t been spiritual at all so far but as I thought about that kudzu, I thought of how it exemplified the Christian life.  I have thought about the fact that the reason I devoted myself to clearing that bank that summer was because there was something I loved that was worth working for.  That rifle was as good as mine because the promise had been made.  That’s how our spiritual life is.  We don’t have to work to get saved, we just work because we love God and he is ours and we are saved.  When our work on this earth is done, then we too will receive our reward.  The promise has already been made.  We will one day reach that place that we have long thought about and see the one that we have longed to see.  I thought about something else.  I found out that you don’t cut it once and that’s it.  You may have it cleaned down to the dirt, but if you don’t keep a watch on it, it will get away from you before you know it.  That too is like our spiritual life.  We can’t just pray once and then sail through life.  We have to watch and when sin starts to take root and start growing again, we have to go back and get it cleaned up again.  Not only that, I didn’t realize it at the time but all of that work was making me stronger.  It was giving me stamina and the more I was out in the sun, the more I got used to the heat and could keep working.  In our walk with the Lord, we better have some stamina and be able to take the heat and keep working.  1 Peter 5:8  says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour;”  When he turns the heat on, we better be able to have enough stamina because we are grounded in the word and be able to take the heat so we are not devoured.  I found out during those hot summer days that the best way to get rid of it for a little longer, was to find the roots where the vine came out of the ground and dig them up.  When we get sin in our life, we might as well go ahead and repent because if we don’t, our life will get all growed over and you will be right back where you started.  We also found out that if we were active on top of that hill, we could keep that stuff stomped out to where we didn’t have to clean it off like we had the last time.  It takes a lot less time and effort to keep it cleaned off than it does to do it over.  Our spiritual life is the same way if we stay active. It don’t give anything a chance to take root in your soul that will hinder your relationship with God.  You can’t even cut it and leave it laying.  Just like in our hearts, you have to remove it when you cut it or it will take root again.  I also figured out that if you take a file to that swingblade and sharpen it on a regular basis, it makes for a lot easier cutting.  If we take the file of God’s word and smooth off the rough edges of our heart, we will be able to hear him say he is proud of us and our service to him will be a lot easier.  Our fellowship with him will be better if we just keep sin cleared out of our hearts.

Well, I bet that was more than you thought you could ever learn, a lesson from a kudzu patch.  Just remember when it gets rough; keep choppin’.  Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians, “your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  You may not get it all at once, meaning there will still be things that are a hindrance in your walk with the Lord.  But, you don’t quit trying to serve him just because it sometimes takes some hard work and you face some obstacles.  You just get more determined and work that much harder.  I hope this is an encouragement to whoever might be reading it and you are in over your head in your kudzu patch.   Just keep choppin’ your way out.  Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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