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I have a huge pile of brush ready to burn. In the Deep South we call it a brush heap, a brush pile, or a burn pile. Over the last few weeks, I have been working my way around a hay field trimming the bushes and the low hanging limbs that have been slowly encroaching on this property for several years. I’ve been cutting pine and sweet gum limbs, as well as privet bushes and piling them up to burn.

All of us should have a pile or brush heap we are working on—metaphorically speaking. Or at least we all need one because we all have junk in our lives—clutter that cries to be dumped, picked up or burned. Clutter smothers us and chokes out the life God has given us to be enjoyed. But God has given you and I the responsibility for trimming the excess, pulling the weeds, and cutting the bushes that encroach and smother our lives. We all need a burn pile, a place we can deposit all those things that have no place in our life.

Some of the materials in my burn pile are the pruning from my azaleas. These are ornamental bushes that produce beautiful flowers in the summer. But, if I don’t prune them each year they get out of hand and take over. Their beauty, if left untrimmed, can become a nuisance and an obstacle in my driveway. Likewise, there are many good things in our lives that, if given complete freedom with little or no maintenance, can get out of hand. They need a pruning every once in a while to bring them back under our control. Even a good thing, if allowed to run wild, can become a bad thing.

Much of my burn pile is composed of privet bushes. Privet bushes seem to spring up when land is not carefully maintained. The birds eat the berries, then roost in the tree limbs on the edge of the field and their droppings spread the privet bushes. These tiny seeds turn into tiny plants that are easily pulled up if you catch them early. But, if you ignore them, they produce a root system on which tiny bushes soon become large trees intertwined with one another. They grow quickly and once they get started they are hard to get rid of. These privet bushes are like the unhealthy clutter we often allow to take root in our lives. We have to be diligent in uprooting the junk because it can become a major job once it becomes a habit or an addiction.

I have promised myself that once I get this field trimmed that I will not wait another ten years to do it again. Instead, I plan to do yearly maintenance to keep the growth and the junk in check. Every person needs a check list they apply to their life on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Questions need to be asked and answered carefully. And all the junk and clutter needs to be uprooted or trimmed and the trash placed on the burn pile. Once it gets large enough—light it up and watch it burn.

One of the benefits to having a burn pile is you can always celebrate once you light it up. I plan on having a wiener roast and a couple of mouth-watering Smores on the hot coals of those pesky privet bushes once they’re gone.