It looked like a picture of true friendship to me. I got so excited, “Look, baby. You gotta take a picture of this tree.” I was already working on my next blog. It was going to be about how one tree, wrapped its trunk around a palm tree to provide strength and support. That’s what believers should do for each other, wrap our arms around the weak and help them. While we should do that, that’s NOT what was happening in this picture. Wayne took the pictures from multiple angles like I asked him to do. He’s a better photographer than I am. Just one more of his talents. I love that man. Sorry, I sidetracked, but he is the joy of my life. Then we went inside the museum.
The man behind the desk greeted us with, “So you like our strangler fig.”
I answered with a bubbly, but ignorant sounding, “Huh?”
“The strangler fig. I saw you taking pictures of it,” the museum guide explained further. “It will kill the palms tree.”
Three things have taken place in the quietness of its growth.
1. It strangles its host like a “botanical boa constrictor”.
2. The profusion of roots gobble the nutrients from the soil.
3. The higher canopy leaves the host tree in the shade. Trees need sunshine, not shade to grow.
Eventually the host tree dies in the shade of the towering strangler fig. Here’s a picture Wayne had taken on Pelican Island of a dead host tree, decaying away, with a strangler fig wrapped and growing around it.
There’s something I find very alarming in this picture, while they will grow on a variety of trees, they will also grow on the strong, mighty trees as well. They attack strong trees like bald cypress, oaks and palms. Sad plight for trees that can endure storms, high winds, blights, and bugs, but die in the arms of a strangler fig.
Sometimes its hard to distinguish between a friend and fiend. Discovering who they really “R” is vital. Discovering if they “R” a fRiend or a fiend calls for spiritual discernment. There are people that sound so nice and warm and friendly, but they are trouble, trouble, TROUBLE. That person that looks like a friend, may actually be a fiend. No, I’m not calling them a devil, but I’m trying to say they are really sent by the enemy to choke the life out of you. They are sent to distract you, to rob from you and if you let them, they’ll choke the very life out of you.
Don’t misunderstand me. Friends are sooo important. I really mean it, they are so important to our spiritual growth and success. My life has been dramatically enriched by friendships. I also have some friends that have been sent for me to encourage and love on and to help them grow. I even have some friends that are unsaved. I wish I had more unsaved friends, but that’s another story for another day. Yet the fact remains, those people that we give closest access to our hearts must be chosen very carefully.
I believe God was saying two things about relationships very clearly.
1. Everyone that looks and acts like a friend, isn’t necessarily your friend at all.
2. Even the mighty succumb to the power of a strangler fig.
My take away:
Proverbs 14:16 “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence.” Father, help me to recognize the people in my life that are potential fig stranglers (not the right relationships to hold in my inner circle). While I’m not going to drag out my magnifying glass and go on a search for them, I will listen to His voice when he warns me about the presence of a strangler fig (wrong relationship) in my life.
- Some warning signs that I have an unhealthy close relationship.
- Their influence leaves me wanting more of the world instead of more of God.
- I’m becoming more like them, and what I see conflicts with my spiritual values.
- I’m more interested in pleasing them, than pleasing God.
- I’m giving them too much control and influence in my life.
- I’m spending too much time with them.
When I recognize a fig strangler or wrong relationship I will:
- Pray for them.
- Love them.
- Refuse to gossip about them.
- Listen to God. Does He want you to severe this relationship or just bring balance in it? Then do what He says.
Here’s a video of this amazing plant.
Think MISSIONAL. If you know someone that would enjoy this blog, please pass it on!