By TRICIA RAYMOND
Of late, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit digging a choke vine out of my garden. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the curse of a choke vine, its modus operandi is to sneak into your bedding plants as an innocuous-looking weed. It starts tiny and leafy and looks like something you could simply pluck from the ground and forget about. To the uninitiated, it may even appear attractive. At any rate, it doesn’t look like the monster it becomes when it is not eradicated early on.
It’s been quite a chore getting rid of it. It’s grown into, underneath, and over a jasmine vine that serves as both the foundation and the focal point for a swing that provides a cool place for me to sit and enjoy life. It has recently topped my beautiful jasmine. Now, it’s an ever-present reminder that it intends to cover the jasmine completely, ultimately choking the life out of it.
I really shouldn’t complain. I first noticed it last summer and had intended to deal with it then. But, one thing after another kept getting in my way. The kids came for a visit. The weather was too hot. I lost my shovel. I had a garage sale. In all honesty, I welcomed these distractions. They were convenient excuses that allowed me to avoid what I knew was unavoidable—days and days of hard work digging it up from the roots. For it is only by digging up the roots that I can be assured of its complete and utter demise.
It hasn’t disappointed. As a matter of fact, my forays into digging up the choke vine have morphed into fantasy battles with a giant dragon—the stuff medieval tales are made of. I leave the comfort of my air-conditioned family room, slathered in a thick mixture of sun block and insect repellant. I arm myself with shovels, clippers, and a bottle of water. My cell phone is secured in my pocket as I venture into my backyard vine-jungle—if a rescue becomes necessary, I will need it to guide my deliverers.
It’s hot, sweaty, backbreaking work that eats away hours and hours of my time. Time that can be put to better use. But, if I want to rescue my jasmine, it is work I must do. It is for the prize of the jasmine that I dare not allow the choke vine to win.
As worrisome as my garden’s choke vine is, there is a choke vine covering our nation that is a million times more worrisome to me. It goes by many names: atheism, secularism, humanism, freedom from religion. It continues to grow into, underneath, and over our schools, our City Halls, and most recently, our military. In other words, the very institutions that serve as both the foundation and the focal point of America’s future as a free nation.
Left unchecked, it will choke the life out of liberty. For it is from God that liberty exists in the heart of man. Erase God from the American culture, choke out the voice of Christianity, and you erase liberty from the life of every American.
Of late, the choke vine has become an especially daunting enemy to our “first freedom”—the freedom of religion. If left unchecked, it will destroy our children’s right to their pursuit of happiness, their chance to freely discover God’s destiny for their individual lives, and to live out that destiny in the form of new businesses, new inventions, and new ideas.
Thankfully, more and more Churches are engaging in the fight to kill the choke vine. And they are finding their way to one another. Through such efforts as the Black Robed Regiment, Call2Fall, the Awakening, and others, like-minded Christian leaders are connecting, learning, and organizing. They’re encouraging one another, praying for one another, and coming up with new ideas about how to reach the culture.
Unlike the choke vine in my garden, this vine can only be extinguished through a united Christian voice that applies Scriptural principles to today’s mind-boggling moral issues. Historically, that voice has come from the pulpit. In fact, the idea of America was born from sermons preached about individual accountability before God. The Church’s influence prevailed in American culture until the 1960s. Since then, it has been diminished and the results are foreboding indeed.
But, the new contingent of pastors and Church leaders forming today is formidable. They understand that in order to kill this choke vine, it will be hard, backbreaking work. But, it is work they are willing to do. It is work we all must do. It is for the blessing of freedom that we dare not let the choke vine win.
Tricia Raymond is a speaker and author whose presentations focus on faith, freedom, and the special role that women play in God’s Kingdom. She is also the Founder of www.LibertyAloud.com, an online advocacy site that focuses on defending religious freedom. Tricia is available for booking through Creative Partners Speakers Bureau 601.454.6503