Do You Have Stranglers In Your Life?
The attached photograph is of a matapalo, as it’s called in Spanish–which means ‘killing stick’. I keep a picture of one like this in my Bible that another missionary once gave me after he took a picture of it in Ecuador.
When I do a Google image search in English, I find something similar called a “Strangler Fig Tree” which is a name I like because it accurately describes what this thing does: it’s like a virus that grows onto the tree, usually in the roots when the tree is young or little. As the tree grows, so does the matapalo. It appears on the surface somewhat like it’s actually a part of the tree, but don’t be fooled–it’s not. This is made obvious by the pictures provided. In fact, they are sucking the nutrients out of the ground that the tree could use, and so the tree is not capable of producing the right amount of fruit that it should. If a tree grows really large for years and years, so does this virus, and its false branches, which strangle the life of the tree.
Let me ask you and challenge you, dear saint: what are you feeding your tree? Are you producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life, or are you feeding the stranglers instead? The devil always comes that he may steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). It’s harder to steal a tree than it is to steal the seed of that tree in its early form. That’s why he sends things like these viruses to attach themselves early on in the process, because that’s the easiest time in our lives–during our formative years. This is why the tobacco companies target young people in their advertising, and why pornographers aim campaigns like e-mail spam and buy the web domain names former churches or toy companies’ websites–to ‘accidentally’ have young people stumble upon them. It’s a psychological fact that the earlier in life a habit is formed or a thought process is established, it’s much harder to destroy these stranglers later on in life. The devil knows this better than most Christians do.
Separating Wheat From Tares
This is very similar to the concept of the wheat and the tares, where both grow together after an enemy has gone in and scattered seeds throughout the soil, and it’s only obvious over time that there are weeds and such that are taking the life from out of us. We all have some level of matapalo in our lives, wasting our time, wasting our energy such as–but not limited to–sinful lifestyle habits, or lies we may be believing that hinder the production of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Even though the wheat and the tares are talking about people, there’s still a principle demonstrated there, about needing to make sure we are separating the wheat from the tares in our lives, so to speak.
If you look at a matapalo in peoples’ lives and not just our own, you may find that they may be LOOKING spiritual, but really it’s poisonous and hindering the actual work of God in us. This is why discernment is necessary, and making sure our own connection to Jesus has no hindrances in the way. But the thing about this type of virus, is that it’s so wrapped up and close to the tree itself, it appears like it actually is supposed to be there, and the tree itself is accommodating this. In the wheat and the tares, removing the tares would have damaged the wheat also. That’s how integrated their roots had gotten in the soil, and both needed to be left to grow together.
It’s this same effect as cancer on the body, sucking life for its own purposes and destroying the body. We’ve developed lifestyles to accommodate the patterns we’re used to living in. It’s like a man with a broken or injured leg, learning to walk with a limp or a cane. The longer we have accommodated such lies, the harder it is to break them through renewing of the mind–but it’s not impossible to be done–take courage, dear saint!
May I challenge you dear friend, to let the light of the Holy Spirit shine in your life, and in the deepest recesses of your heart and mind, to show you what these things are. Ways of thinking for years and years might not even seem wrong to you, but they are hindering you.
What may be impossible to fix in the natural, God can fix in the inside of you.