Chewing on Briars
Have you ever chewed on briars? I have - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace. Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition? James 1:2-8 (TPT)
Let’s go way back in time - to the time of my childhood. My grandmother was an awesome Southern cook. She would always ask me to help her, and I would pull up a chair next to the cook top and stand on it to help stir pots, flip corn patties, whatever she asked. One of my personal favorites was blackberry cobbler - seedless, of course.
In late spring and early summer, the wild blackberries ripen. It was then that she would send me out on my bike with a basket to pick them. While I was gone, she would make the dough and dumplings for the cobbler. Unfortunately, I could never get to enough blackberries only on the outside of the vines. I would pick those first, and then needed to bite through some of the vines to get to the ones in the center. One obvious problem was that the thorns were painful. The not-so-obvious challenge was that the vines were extremely bitter and long-lasting in their bitterness. But it was always worth it when I began to chow down on bowl after bowl of blackberry cobbler. Yes sir, victory!
Later on in life, I began to have parallel life experiences, challenges that involved seasons of pain and bitterness. It has been through those that I learned to know my loving Lord in different ways. Haven’t we all heard sermons about our different vantage points in life? To my wife, I am her husband. To my children, I am their father. To my friends, I am their friend. The Lord is like that in my life as well. Sometimes he is my most high God. Sometimes he is my Father. Sometimes he is my friend.
When I am in these briar patches, or what our pastor likes to call “bad patches,” the Lord will notice that I am chewing on the briars. Sometimes he approaches me as my friend, almost like he is wearing a pair of jeans and a pullover shirt.
“Hey Keith, I notice you are chewing on some briars.”
“Aren’t they painful and bitter as well?”
“Are you ready to move on?”
“No, sir. I owe it to myself to be miserable and stay here for a while.” I am sure that none of you has ever stood in this moment before, right?
He finds this humorous. I don’t. I truly don’t, but I keep chewing nonetheless. And it is as if he tucks his hands in his pockets and says “Okay, I am over here whenever you need me.”
Eventually, I look over at him, seeing him for who he is, and begin to understand and stand in the truth of his victory for me personally in this life event. Then I cry out “Abba, help me. I can’t do this on my own.”
So, guess how he approaches me now, in this moment. He comes as my Father, my most high God, my great high priest, and he ushers in my victory.
Did he not take on the pain of thorns and bitterness of life on our behalf?
Mark 15:17 The Passion Translation (TPT)
They placed a purple robe on him to make fun of him. Then they braided a victor’s crown, a wreath made of thorns, and set it on his head.
Can’t we now abide in that, exercise that faith?
Hebrews 11:6 The Passion Translation (TPT)
And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who give all their passion and strength into seeking him.
Prayer of Declaration: Jesus, you bore our thorns of pain and our bitterness of life that we might have your strength, your joy, your kindness, your overcoming dominion, power, and authority. You have appointed us as your royal high priests that we might go boldly into the throne room, seeing the Father and crying out “Abba, my most high God.” Jesus, in you is our victory, sealed for all eternity. Amen.