by Kathy Lay
This Week’s Verse: Hosea 10:12, “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’”
Blackberry bushes line the perimeter of our yard and this time of year we’re usually out reaping the harvest. These are wild bushes; we didn’t plant them and yet we’re able to enjoy their luscious fruit.
There is a small price to pay for the bounty though. The thorns on the bushes can make berry-picking a painful experience if we’re not careful. Most of the time, we just stick to the outside berries—even though they’re usually smaller—so that we don’t have to endure being poked and pierced. We usually take the easy way out.
But while I was doing the “easy” picking last year, I spied through the leaves and branches a fat, full, succulent cluster of berries. They were so much better than “the outside berries”—so plump and huge.
I weighed my options. I could lean straight forward through a lot of thorny branches, tough it out, grab the blackberries, then deal with the consequences later. Or I could try to find a way in from the back, decreasing (only a little!) my exposure to the thorns, but increasing (a lot!) the time invested for the berries. With the heat and bugs pestering me, I opted to get right to business and leaned through about three feet of prickly hell. But I got those berries! And it was so worth it when the kids and I had dark juicy stains on our lips!
How like berry-picking is living for God. He graces us with blessings we don’t deserve (we didn’t plant those bushes), but then our will comes into play as far as what we do with them. We could ignore them altogether. We could randomly pick at them as we speed past on the lawn mower of life. We could make an intentional effort, but merely settle for small fruit while playing it safe on the outside.
Or we could sacrifice ourselves and go deep, seeking the biggest and the best waiting for us.
Lord, put a longing in our hearts to keep our eyes on the prize—the best fruit for Your kingdom. Put a yearning in us to go beyond our comfort zone and sustain us to persevere. Even if we get pierced or hurt along the way, help us to remember that You, Jesus, did it first. And thank You for that.
Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”(NIV)
Mark 8:34, “Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?’” (MSG)
Jeremiah 45:5, “’And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,’ says the LORD. ‘But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.’” (NKJV)