When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good …

A while ago, the book titled Fruit of the Drunken Tree piqued my interest. The story  contrasts the struggles of Chula, who lives in a gated community in Bogotá, Columbia and Petrona, the family’s maid, who lives in city’s slum area–an area  controlled by followers of Pablo Escobar, an infamous drug lord. Ingrid Rojas Contreras, the author, used her own life to shape the storyline.

The book runs the gamut of emotions as two sides collide on their views about using Escobar resources to support their families. As much as I was drawn into taking sides what captured my attention was a tree that grew immediately inside the gate of Chula’s yard.

The family called it el Borrachero—the Drunken Tree. The scientific name is Brugmansia arborea alba. It has rather twisted limbs, beautiful white flowers and brown fruit. Every part of this tree, even the leaves and the flowers, is very poisonous.

According to Chula’s mother, those who ingested Burundanga, a substance made from the tree’s fruit and flowers, were transformed into zombies or could easily become victims of date rape.

I did some reading about this tree and the Brugmansia or Angel’s Trumpet, is indeed poisonous. There are incidences in which the byproduct Burundanga, was used as a date rape drug. But there are no reports of anyone becoming a zombie–yet. And by the way, you can go online and buy this for a garden or house plant for as little as $9.99.

As I read the book I wondered why you would keep such a tree around. It looks beautiful but the consequences of any contact is deadly. When asked the same question, Chula’s mother replied, “It is so lovely to see every day growing in our front yard. But like so many things in our lives, if you do not want the consequences, run away fast and do not look back.”

That quote brought a few pictures to my mind. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:16-17)  Lot’s wife in the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 19:24-26)

But the most unsettling picture was how I can deal with sin. I am fully aware of what sin looks like. I know the consequences. And yet, I can become fixated on the temptation. I can rationalize away, pretend to be ignorant of or simply acknowledge the presence of sin–then bring it into my life. I can be a perfect picture of what a coworker of my wife once said. One reason God hates sin so much because it is so stupid.

I would like to think that I would not mess with that tree pictured above. But my record with sin is not good. The devil is also aware of that and uses it to his advantage.

As always, God has the answer no matter how powerful the devil may seem to me. So, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded people. James 4:7-8 EHV. This passage is a picture of my struggles with sin.

I find myself indeed being double-minded. I love my Savior Jesus for all he did for me in dying on that cross to pay for my sins. My response should be an all-out battle against the temptations with which the devil ensnares me.

But I also need an instruction book on exactly how to live out that love for my Savior. I see three steps:

Submit to God. Give over the control of all I do and whatever is happening in my life to him, no matter how I feel.

Resist the devil. With God fighting for me the devil will run and take his temptations with him.

Come near to God. Study his word. Be in prayer continuously. In doing so God is always close. He is there to give me the strength to resist no better–to overcome temptations.

Three steps are not too many and they are certainly less than twelve. I know the battle will go on. The devil will flee but he knows where this sinful body lives. To win this battle I need to always be aware of where I am vulnerable. I need to avoid situations that add fuel to my sinful desires.

Most importantly, I remember what Jesus did for me. Through his Word and prayer I must remain in constant contact with him. As he surrounds me with his love, the devil will run. That’s what the Bible tells me and that is the only truth that matters.

My prayer is simple. Forgive me, Lord for my sins. Keep me close to you and never let me go.

Thanks for coming to read this post. Come back sometime. I will wait you.

A simple song and yet something I know is true. When I hear it sung by more than one person, I realize I am not alone in my struggle with sin.


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