Thursday, May 4, 2023

Digging Thorns

As we talk about thorns and the beauty and holiness that God brings out of the most thorny things, it's important that we talk about at least one more thing. 

We have already seen that God calls us and equips us to deal with thorns when they are part of His holy plan, when He's using them to do something beautiful and holy. This was the case when building the Tabernacle, for example. God called and equipped the workers to work with the thorny wood. 

My guess is that, if God had just given His people the plans for what He wanted to build in any situation and told them to go out and find the materials, most of them would not have chosen acacia wood. Most of them would have gone to great lengths to avoid having to work with the thorny acacia. They might even have shipped wood in from other parts of the region just to not have to touch those thorns. 

The first thought in their mind would not have been, "This is for the Lord and the Lord loves hard things! Let us choose the most difficult wood among us, the one with the most thorns, for then, this work shall be truly glorious for Him!" 

And yet, there are a lot of us who do just that. 

There are so many of us who are walking the path God has given us, faithfully working our way through the life we have been called to navigate, and then, we see an acacia tree just off to the side. We see that tree, we see its thorns, and we think to ourselves, "God must want me to tackle that. Look how hard and painful it looks!" 

Then, we turn in the direction of the acacia tree and try to take hold of it with our bare hands, uncalled and unequipped. 

Then, we have the audacity to ask God why our lives are so hard. We blame Him for the trouble that we've encountered, and all sorts of questions start to rise in our hearts about why kind of God this must be to create a life so hard for us. 

It's important to reiterate here - a lot of times, God never asked us to get off the path. He never told us to go after those thorns. He didn't call us to them, and He didn't equip us for them. That's how we know. 

Yet, there remains this narrative within the church that the harder a thing is, the more glory it brings to God. No, my friends. The more faithful a thing is, the more glory it brings to God, and not every thorn is a faithful endeavor. Sometimes, the best thing you can do in faith is to just keep walking and leave those thorns alone. 

You don't get more heaven points for conquering more hard things. You don't get more love from God for man-handling the thorns. You don't get to share some of the glory because you, you used acacia wood when you didn't have to. None of that matters as much as sometimes the preaching in the church implies that it matters. 

You are already as loved by God as you're ever going to be - fully. You don't need heaven points. And the glory is never yours. Sorry. 

So stop going after the thorns that God hasn't called or equipped you to handle. Stop thinking you have to take that detour every time it presents itself so that you can go off-road and conquer one more challenge. That's not how God works, and it's not what He's looking for. 

He's looking for faith. 

And sometimes, faith means to just keep walking.  

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