About a week ago, my wife and I were preparing to have forty counselors at our house for a cookout and time for them to share devotions (and yes, there was a cascade of swimming - literally). Prior to the party, however, I was weeding the backyard and discovered two days later (this past Monday) that I had encountered poison ivy. I knew that when I had rashes that were very evident on my legs (knees and calves, stomach and all over my right arm). It burned and it was painful. As I have been taking antibiotics, given a shot of steroids and applying steroid creme everyday (twice a day) since Tuesday, I can tell you that this was my first encounter (hopefully my last) and I will be so extra careful hereafter. As my pastor was preaching today, we are going through a summer theme of Camp Rules (based on the Heidelberg catechism) I was struck with this analogy: How poison ivy is like sin in our lives. For instance, when you go to this website you will find the following test:
How it spreads
Poison ivy is easy to avoid if you know what to evade. The problem is not the plant itself, but what’s inside the plant’s stems, leaves, berries, and roots.
When the delicate leaves of the poison ivy plant are damaged by contact from people, insects or animals, it exudes urushiol oil (pronounced “oo-roo-shee-ohl”).
Once this oil contacts the skin of a sensitive individual, it rapidly penetrates the outer layer of dry skin (the epidermis) and gets into the living layer (the dermis) where the allergic reaction occurs.
It doesn’t take much oil to make you miserable. If you barely brush your skin against the plant, a rash of red pimples, even blisters, can break out. Physcians term this reaction “contact dermatitis.” In response to the irritating oil, the body produces histamines, the substance that causes an overabundance of mucuous when you have a cold. In the case of a poison ivy rash, the fluid shows up as blisters in the skin. (Note: The fluid is not the oil, rather the body’s attempt to wash it away.)
Unfortunately, the oil is very transferable. You don't have to come into direct contact: touching your skin against clothing, pets, or even inanimate objects on which the oil has transferred can cause a reaction. See Poison Ivy Facts and Myths for more information on how it’s spread.
Stopping poison ivy before it stops you
You know you don't want to get too close to poison ivy. But how do you avoid it when you’re hiking, fishing, camping, and doing all the other things you love to do in the woods? Knowing the plant’s appearance and habitat is your greatest protection.
Unfortunately, poison ivy is an adaptable plant that may appear as little sprouts, vines, or bushes with shiny green or dull green/brown leaves. Seeing one plant is an indication that more will be in the area-usually in a proverbial “patch” characterized by marginal soil and drainage.
The good news is that all varieties share a common trait: poison ivy leaves grow in clusters of three, with two leaves growing opposite on the stem and the third at the top. Just be aware of your surroundings and steer clear of anything resembling poison ivy.
Sounds simple enough, but just knowing the plant’s appearance won’t be enough if you’re traveling through areas rife with poison ivy. You’ll have to “dress defensively” by wearing clothing that minimizes your skin’s exposure to poison ivy plants. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hiking boots will help, as will gloves. Coincidentally, the same type of clothing worn to prevent poison ivy will also help protect you from ticks, which in some cases can cause lyme disease.
Some actions steps for disciples of Christ: 1) Spend time in the Word daily
2) Avoid pitfalls (be part of men's group, have accountability in your life)
3) Be honest and confess your sins to God daily
4) Flee run from sin (don't try and entertain it or say that you are better than it)
5) Pray often
6) When in doubt ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to guide your way.