"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Beware the Barberry

Okay, I titled my last post about 'Being God's; Being Worthy", but never got to addressing the thoughts I had. I guess there were too many rabbits running around in my head. So, I still feel like I need to share some of my Holy Week thoughts.

One of my favorite shrubs is the Barberry. I have several planted around my house, but the largest and nicest is at the entrance to my front sidewalk. The deep red leaves and long cascading limbs make an attractive plant, plus it is a low maintenance shrub (which appeals to me). During the winter, the foliage drops and reveals long stems covered with long thorns, so it is definitely a shrub to be respected.

Last week, I was doing a lot of work in the front shrub beds; trimming bushes, dividing hosta plants, raking out and replacing pine straw, weeding out those winter-hardy weeds, moving some rose bushes and never thinking about where the dreaded Barberry was located. All of a sudden, I felt quite a number of thorns penetrate the jeans and t-shirt I was wearing and impale me on this "favorite" shrub. After I extricated myself, I took the hedge trimmers to the Barberry with a vengeance previously unknown to myself. Afterwards, I realized that in my folly, I had only created more trimmings to pick up with thorns that penetrate even the thickest of gloves.

As I tried to get these evil thorny trimmings into the yard bag and suffering more and more thorn pricks, it suddenly dawned on me how much these stalks with thorns looked like the pictures of the Crown of Thorns that was forced upon the head of Jesus. I took a couple pieces and fashioned a circle of sorts and placed it on my head. Even when barely touching my hair, the thorns were already digging into my scalp, some of them drawing pinpricks of blood. And we know that the crown used on Jesus had thorns more like nails than like a yard shrub.

Yet, my Savior endured this Crown of Torment to be forced down upon His head by those with no compassion or thought for His pain. I realized that this crown was only one small part of the pain, humiliation and torture that He went through........for me and for you! Even after many years of belief and service to my Lord, I still cannot fully comprehend the reason. I still cannot comprehend the true meaning of the word, WORTHY. The dictionary only gives the earthly humanistic meaning and I can define it in terms of "I am worthy of getting this new job because I am the best candidate" or "You are worthy to receive this recognition because of the service you give to the community." Yet, this doesn't begin to explain to me how Jesus was worthy to die for me. This would come from a heavenly dictionary that none of us yet have access.

I sin every day. Even though this might shock some of you, it is true. I am a daily sinner. I do not deserve the friends I have, the possessions I have accumulated, the family of which I am a part, the gifts and talents which God has given me, or anything other thing which is mine. I'm grateful each day for the blessings which with God has given me, but I feel the sense of unworthiness. I do not deserve to be the recipient of all God has given; I do deserve the punishment for the sins I commit each day.

However, the Love and Grace of God took this punishment away from me and put it on His Son. Jesus didn't deserve it, yet He took it and bore it for me. The scriptures say the He was Worthy. Worthy to accept my sins on His head and body. That is grace, my friends. I've heard Grace defined as God's Righteousness At Christ's Expense. To me, that is just a bit too cutesy for what grace really is and the true definition is still far beyond my comprehension.

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8 NLT)

It's odd (in a funny way) how God reveals Himself in nature and teaches us lessons about Himself, if we are only paying attention. I guess that having the lower half of your body invaded by Barberry thorns is the only way God could get my attention that day. Even though the concept of the Worthiness of Christ is still not fully understandable to me, I accept this gift from God and will do my best to share His message with those around me.

What does it take for God to get your attention?

Be God's,


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Winston said...

It doesn't matter what you want to be or what God want's you to be, the only thing you can ever be is what you are for better or worse!

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Jimmy said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Winston. I appreciate it.


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