The Field of Sundew
George Everard, 1882
I have a friend in Australia, and not very far from his house at Melbourne he lately saw a field covered with a small plant called "Sundew." Every morning hundreds of very small dew-drops are seen glistening in the eye of the plant; and as the sun shines out upon them, you might almost imagine the field scattered over with diamonds. But there is something very treacherous about this little plant. The flies are often enticed by the brightness of these dew-drops, and light upon the plant for the purpose of tasting the sweet little bait thus presented. No sooner, however, does the fly light upon the tiny stem, than the legs become entangled with the gluey matter which the plant gives forth. Instead of pleasantly sipping a drop of early dew, and then flying off to light upon some other flower, the trespasser becomes a prisoner, and is embraced with a firm and tenacious grasp by the tiny but innumerable arms which the plant throws out.
The fly soon finds it impossible to escape from his cage. Gradually but surely it is drawn in, sometimes remaining a living prisoner for days, but seldom if ever free again to fly abroad in the world. Almost every flower of the plant which you pluck contains a fly living or dead; and though you may try to release one from its captivity, it will almost certainly cause the death of the little prisoner.
I trust, my young friends, you will not be angry with me if I draw a comparison. It may not be very flattering, but it is a true one. I cannot but think that young folks are too like the flies caught in the trap which this plant seems to set for them. The field covered with sundew, and the dewdrops glistening in the sunshine, is just like the world and its numberless enticements. It invites you, perhaps, young and inexperienced, to sip the sweet drop of pleasure from its flowers, and promises you all sorts of delight and enjoyment, beguiling you with an expectation of months and years in which no ill shall happen to you — and that tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.
But there is treachery beneath this flattering voice. It promises far more than it gives. It may hold out the cup in one hand — but there is a chain or a knife in the other hand! Too soon the pleasure is turned into pain, or if not, the soul is tied and bound with a fetter which enslaves it. Go your own way, gratify yourself, and do just as you like. Indulge yourself in whatever form your own inclination leads you — drink in the sweet bait of the world's praise, throw yourself into the excitement of the ball-room, and withhold no joy from your heart. But what does it all come to? What strength does it give for duty? What support does it minister in life's inevitable sorrows? What does it leave behind when the present is passed?
You remember perhaps the despairing cry of Micah in the Book of Judges, when the Danites had taken away the young Levite, and the gods he had made. "You have taken away the gods that I made — and what have I more?" (18:24). That is just the cry of numberless hearts who have found their comfort and pleasure only in the world. You have taken away my wealth, my opportunities for self-indulgence, my companions, my prospects, my days of health — and what have I more? Oh, what a bitter experience is this!
What a contrast to the child of God! Take from him every earthly thing, and then let him ask — what have I more? What is the answer?
"I have a good conscience, sprinkled with the atoning blood.
I have all the promises, and every one faithful and true, and sure to be fulfilled.
I have God's favor and His changeless loving-kindness.
I have a Savior's grace and presence ever with me.
I have the help of the Comforter.
I have fellowship with all God's people.
I have a right of citizenship in the Heavenly Zion.
I have an eternity of joy and felicity awaiting me."
Especially does the illustration I am using teach us the thraldom and bondage which the world brings with it. In many ways this is felt, and the soul is often powerless to break the chain. The gluey matter on the Sundew is so like the attractive, adhesive power which the things of the world exercise over us. They lay hold of the human heart, and forbid it to rise above them.
Oftentimes there is a secret consciousness of something higher and better, of a deep and holy peace which you have seen some child of God possess. Yet these aspirations are crushed and kept down, and while all alive to the busy scenes of the mirthful circle in which you move — you perchance remain dead to the true life which alone is worthy of the name.
A wealthy Russian lady of high position at St. Petersburgh had an English maid who knew her Bible, and loved the Savior. Sometimes she dropped a word in the hope that it might lead her mistress to think. One day the lady was dressed for a ball, and called her in before leaving her room, and asked her if everything was right about her dress.
Everything was in its place, and her maid said so. But the lady noticed that she heaved a sigh. She asked her whether anything was the matter. She said nothing for a time, but, on being pressed, she remarked that she was thinking on the words, "She who lives for pleasure, is dead while she lives."
The word went right home to her conscience. She permitted the maid to explain its meaning. She saw that a heart wrapped up in life's vanities and amusements, was dead to a Father's love and all the blessedness of His kingdom. Years afterward, when the nurse had settled in England, her old mistress, while over for a visit, found her and told her that the message spoken long before had drawn her to the Savior's footstool.
But the description of this plant reminds us of the enormous power of little things. The plant itself is small — yet no less does it slay its victim. The arms which it throws out are very tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye — yet no less do they perform their deadly work and hold their captive in their firm embrace! Is it not thus with little sins, little temptations, a thousand little matters which seem almost too small to do much mischief, and which yet practically lead on to the most painful consequences?
Men are apt to excuse themselves for yielding to some snare of the tempter, because it seems but a very trifling offence — but it may prove the ruin of a precious soul! An hour or two spent in an atmosphere of evil, a sensational and worldly novel, a single word of flattery eagerly drunk in, a few minutes' conversation with one who may be attractive in appearance and affable in manne — but who does not bear a spotless character; a moment's irresolution in rejecting a proposal of secret correspondence, a little nonsense or flirtation that you mean nothing by, a wrong thought cherished in the heart — any one of these may be the cause of fatal mischief — just the lighting down on the flower — just the first step in a lifelong bondage to your enemy, and which may end in final apostasy from Christ.
Oh! beware of little things! "He who despises little things, shall fall little by little." One stray footstep, one misspent moment, one inconsiderate word or heedless act — may bring you a world of misery and regret.
Will you remember this, young friend, when danger is near, when the heart is light and giddy, and you may be entrapped before you think?
Will you strive to keep as far as possible from the region of danger?
Will you shrink from the very shadow of sin?
Will you reject at once and forever, whatever a tender conscience whispers to be wrong?
Will you often lift up your heart in prayer, "Lord, deliver me from evil!"
Perhaps some young friend has found out the truth of these words by personal experience. You have tried the world, and the world has not satisfied you — and yet you cannot get free from its spell. It has caused you many an hour's pain and disappointment, but it has never given you a moment of true peace — and yet the chain is not easily broken.
But remember there is a Deliverer. There is One who came to "deliver us from this present evil world." He can set the captive free, and bring you out into the glorious liberty of God's children. Though the world has been too strong for you, and its sweet little baits and morsels have drawn you into its power — yet Christ has overcome the world, and He will enable you to do the same.
"This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Christ?"
Then cry in faith to Him who can support and help you. Look to Him, pray earnestly to Him, and He will teach you the secret of victory. When you know and love Him, when you have tasted the streams of His forgiving mercy — then you will learn that there is something better than earth can afford. You will learn, too, how real and deep and satisfying are those pure joys which He provides for His people.
There are flowers which have upon them the dew of Heaven, and which have no snare or peril lurking beneath. There are Divine promises, heavenly hopes, bright encouragements to a Christian life; there are revelations of a Father's love, of a Savior's grace, of the fellowship of the Spirit, of a kingdom not of this world, which may well cheer those who turn to them and taste them by meditation and prayer and praise.
More than this: there are Christian books, Christian friends, means of grace of various kinds, the sanctified joys of a happy Christian home — sweet flowers from which you may sip the dew and drink the honey — and, instead of being injured or enslaved, you shall be refreshed, revived, and comforted in running the heavenly race, and pressing forward to the Father's kingdom.
Which shall it be — the pleasures of sin, which are but for a moment — or the joy and peace of true religion, which lead to the pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore?