There will be thorns… A perennial “weed” in my new garden is proving troublesome. Brambles are growing through the established shrubs- we even had a few decent blackberries in the autumn! The previous owner of the house had become too frail to keep up with the gardening. It doesn’t take long for the brambles to grow and many other weeds to thrive.
Careful gardeners wear strong gloves. There will always be thorns, or splinters, or sharp stones… So it is the whole of life. For every flower, there is a weed; for every rose there will be thorns. I’d love to jump straight to the glorious Resurrection of Jesus- but there are a list of lessons to learn. Peter, John, James and Thomas all struggled with what Jesus began to teach on the road to Jerusalem. There will be stones in their shoes and thorns in their feet before they experience the deepest joy of meeting the Risen Christ.
Mark 8:31 (NLT)
Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.
Lent gives us time and opportunity to consider the reality of being a Christian disciple. Most of us would welcome some assurance that our life is safe and secure. We may even start to believe that all trouble should pass us by- after all, did not Jesus promise to bless us and keep us? Yes, on the Way of the Cross. Discipleship means sharing the sufferings of Christ: they will come to those who faithfully witness to the Good News of the Kingdom.
Challenge those wishful thoughts of an easy road, today, as a Lent meditation. Jesus suffered literal thorns- the crown of mockery- in order to fulfil His purpose of bringing in the Kingdom of God. He warned that we too would face trouble and even persecution because we follow the Way of the Cross. He also warned that we might suffer as a consequence of our own faults and sins. So… how shall we respond?
Although we do not welcome the “thorns”- troubles and pain- can we, will we, accept thorns as a fact of our reality instead of blaming God? Secondly: can we think of some “gardening” we need to do in our souls to pull out the brambles and weeds that are spoiling our walk with the HOLY Christ? Gardens that are well-tended have fewer nasty surprises. Some troubles and suffering will come to us. If we allow dark corners and overgrown tangles of self-centredness, pride, or impure thinking, that is where the thorns will grow. We can, with care and Spirit-led humility, avoid the self-inflicted scars that afflict the unwary.
Thank You for the honesty of Jesus who warned us of the cost of discipleship. Lord, grant me patience and the spirit of humble repentance. Amen.