The Joy of Kudzu

Every single one of the United States of America has a list of official “State Stuff.” We have our “State Birds,” and our “State Flowers,” and all sorts of other official “State Stuff.” Then, there’s the “unofficial” list – the sort of things that you have a hard time appreciating to the fullest extent unless you’ve actually been to that state for any length of time. For example, when we lived in Virginia, we decided that the “State Dance” should be the U-Turn. In some Virginia cities, it’s impossible to travel without them. Coastal states in the southeast have a “State Insect,” the mosquito. There is some disagreement on this one, as there are those that think that the Mosquito ought to be the “State Bird,” which you can understand when you see how big they grow ’em down there. There is, however, a consensus on giving Mosquitos some sort of State title – anything that consumes that many tax dollars without being elected ought to be treated with respect.

The unofficial “State Weed” of many tropical southern states is a lovely plant called Kudzu. Since our CaseStudies readership includes a large number of folks that live outside that region, many of you have never heard of Kudzu before. For your benefit, let me offer a quick overview of what Kudzu is, and why Southerners love it so much.

Kudzu is a vine that is native to Japan. Once upon a time, someone thought that this lovely vine with it’s wisteria-like purple flowers would look pretty in their garden back home, and shipped some Kudzu to the USA. We don’t know for sure who this was, but if it were known, he/she would have been lynched long ago. What the well-meaning gardener didn’t realize is that there is something about the moist, tropical heat of many southern states that causes Kudzu to grow like wildfire – a foot or more in a day. It was once rumored that the name Kudzu is actually an African word that means “I can’t kill this stuff!” I can’t verify the truth of that rumor, but anyone who has experienced Kudzu first hand has no problem with believing it.

In some parts of the south, it’s virtually impossible to find a patch of wild grass and trees without a Kudzu infestation. The vine will quickly cover an entire tree with such density that the tree’s original leaves wither for lack of sunlight. Telephone poles, trees, signposts, radio towers, or virtually anything else that stands still long enough, turns into thick, lush greenery. If it weren’t for an occasional winter freeze, Kudzu would take over the whole South. As it is, there are some portions that have already lost the battle.

So, if Kudzu is so rich and lush a green vine, what’s the problem? It looks lovely in some places. The real problem is that a stand of Kudzu can cover a tree do thickly that the tree’s foliage dies for lack of nourishment and sunshine. On the surface, it looks beautiful. Underneath that surface, the beautiful vine can be a killer.

There are many things in life that are like Kudzu. Many of mankind’s favorite sins grow in just the same way. At first glance, they look lovely—but underneath that lovely facade, the Joy of Salvation is being slowly choked out of our lives. Bad attitudes have the same effect. Anger and hatred are even worse. Like Kudzu, these “weeds of the Spirit” need to be cut back each and every day of our lives if we are to avoid being consumed by them. To begin losing those battles, all we need to do is stand still – the Kudzu knows just what to do to conquer us.

Any Kudzu in your life today? Need to do a little trimming? Grab “The sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God,”(Ephesians 6:17) and start chopping! Our God is bigger than those weeds!

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