What if our faith was growing like kudzu? For people not from the Deep South, kudzu is a vine that was first introduced to North America in 1876 to celebrate our nation’s 100 year anniversary. If you’ve ever been to my home state Georgia, kudzu has overtaken the landscape. The earliest farmers tried to feed the vine to their livestock, but the vine grew too fast. Other landowners planted it to prevent erosion. It was not until 1972 that kudzu was declared a weed. During the hot summer months the vine can grow up to a foot a day and can grow over 60 feet a year.
Now the weed has overtaken 7.5 million acres.
For perspective, the combined size New Jersey and Connecticut is roughly 8 million acres.
Not only does this vine grow incredibly fast, it has proved more difficult to kill. It can cost thousands of dollars to kill the plant. We have now discovered, the most effective way to clear kudzu is to unleash a pack of wild goats or sheep. However, most people try to kill kudzu by completely mowing the weed to the ground during the summer months. Then the entire plant most be throw into a fire and burned.
One summer Billy Reilly and I were hired to remove three acres of kudzu. Billy being an expert landscaper, told the home owner we could complete the whole job for $1000. On day number one, Billy went to pee in the creek and fell in. Why didn’t he use the restroom inside? I am not sure how it happened, but we needed to drive back to his mother's house so he could change. One small problem Billy threw his car keys in the grass and managed to run them over with the lawn mower. When we found them they looked like a gnarled monkey paw. We were twenty years old and we had to call his mother come pick us up so Jimmy could change clothes.
On the second day, he is using the weed wacker next to the house and somehow managed to break a basement window. Instead of telling the homeowner, he decides to grab some duct tape out of his car and tape the pieces of glass back to the window. Really? Then a few minutes later he attacks the cable tv because he thinks it’s a snake. A snake?
On the third and final day, Billy tries to start a fire to burn the kudzu. However, it was raining and we didn’t have any dry wood so Billy starts using lawnmower gas to get the fire started. I remember saying to him, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He turns around and says, “Andy I am trained professional. I know what I am doing.” In the next instant, the gas can catches fire and he tosses the flaming can into the woods. I grabbed a rake and began beating out the fire. Billy grabbed the water hose and ran toward the fire, but as he was running he quickly realized the hose was too short. When he reached the end of the hose, he looked like he was connected to a bungee cord. That hose snatched him back 10 feet. He was laying on the ground. I am still beating on the fire with a melting rake and the fire is burning out of control. Now Billy runs into the house to get a bucket of water and call 911. He comes running towards the fire and tries to throw the bucket of water, but it swings back around and he is soaked with water. Then he gets the bright idea to get water from of the creek. Somehow he manages to fall into the creek again. I am still viciously trying to protect the neighbors house at this point. Billy has given up and goes and gets a pack of cigarettes and I promise this part is true, he lights a cigarette off the fire and sits down on his lawnmower to wait for the fire department.
Finally, the calvary arrive and they make me run hoses with them as Billy directs the firefighters. After we put out the fire, the fire chief said, “How did this fire start?” Billy replies, “I started pouring gas on the fire.” Incredulous the chief says, “You never pour gasoline on a fire.”
After it was all said and down, Billy and I burned two acres of kudzu. With great ambition, which I still admire, he approached the homeowner and said, “Well good thing that fire burned down most of the kudzu. What time would you like us to come finish up tomorrow?” The shocked woman handed us a check for $1000 and politely asked us to never return.
What if our faith was as difficult to destroy as kudzu?