by Tawnya Shaffer

Spring. Tulips, daffodils, and other perennials poke their green heads out of the waking soil.  Buds start emerging on rose bushes, trees, and lilacs.  Robins start their courtships and seek materials for nest construction.  New life is under every pile of last year’s leaves and on every limb.

Antsy to be a part of the awakening process, I get on my knees and start trimming dead branches and uncovering the green sprouts. As anxious as the new growth, I eagerly set to work. As my hands clear the old, I discover a plethora of green vines, intertwined through my flowerbed. 

Amazed at the amount, and strength of this eager spring plant, I work to seek its source. As my fingers follow the strong, fresh leaves, I discover that this stronghold has quickly and purposely wrapped itself around my roses, tulips, daffodils, and other bushes, threatening to choke them out.

Ivy is a beautiful ground cover and hearty plant, but a potential menace to any neighboring plants. Eager to protect my new growth, I make a decision; lose the ivy and save the rest.  I wrestle with the strong, determined vines, some already four to five feet long.  Pulling heartily, I struggle to clear the menace, my spring flowers sighing in relief. As I work, my thoughts turn to a recent Bible study I completed on bitterness and how similar these stubborn vines are.

In Ephesians, Paul gives instruction to the church in Ephesus on how to live like Christ. He is clear and his words are still applicable today. The lessons include abiding in Christ, maturity in Christ, and practical do’s and don’ts. In chapter 4:31 he writes, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (NIV). 

Note what he lists first: bitterness. That is no mistake. Paul knew the destructive power in harboring resentment against another person.  When we choose to not forgive, we develop bitterness; the rest of the list is not far behind. When these behaviors take hold, followers of Christ are ensnared in their trap, and no longer shine His light effectively.  Paul’s letter encouraged the believers to stay united, build each other up, and forgive one another just as Christ forgave us.

Bitterness takes a quick, strong hold with deep roots much like ivy. Bitterness will permeate many areas of our lives. Areas that have potential for beautiful growth, until the strong vine of bitterness chokes them out, debilitating their potential. The growth is rapid and deep rooted. 

These are the very areas through which God wants to be glorified! So He tells us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. For your life to be the beautiful garden that God has designed it to be, it has to be free of this menace. Just like my ivy, you have to go all the way to the root to rid yourself of this enemy of the soul.  

How is your life’s garden looking?    Ivy does not have to reign in your flower garden or bitterness in the garden of your life.  Make the decision today to do some much needed weeding.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31 NIV.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Tawnya Shaffer has walked many difficult roads but chooses joy.  She speaks and writes to share that joy and Jesus with others. She is married to her childhood sweetheart Dennis, has three grown children and their spouses, and four of the best grandkids of the world. She has written two non-fiction books: Words from Birds, and Radical Restoration, Finding Intimacy in Christ– co- authored with Dr. Dawn Adkins.  Follow her on Facebook @ Tawnya Shaffer Ministries or @ her blog www.thesoarspot.com.

Join the conversation: What pruning and weeding needs to be done in order for you to sprout and bloom?


One thought on “Spring

  1. Tawnya’s ivy analogy showcased the need to find the root of whatever may steal our joy.

    For some, the slow growth of bitterness can mask where it started. For example, it can hide behind what we may feel is justifiable anger. To keep bitterness from choking our joy, we find and remove the root cause. Difficult, but doable.

    The Holy Spirit gives us the discernment to find the root and Christ’s strength gives us the ability to remove it.


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