(Part 4 of 5. The series begins here.)
Some of the farmer’s seeds fall among thorn plants. The emerging roots reach essential nutrients. Up the sapling grows. Resistance though is met as spiny plants impale and obstruct. Essentially, it exists but it cannot mature.
The seed is God’s Word. Some people embrace His message of grace and growth begins. Immersed in the elements of worship, meditation, and servanthood, the new believer flourishes. Then the worries of the world converge. They choke the emerging joy and hamper growth by distraction. Essentially, faith exists but it cannot mature.
The. worries. of. the. world. At best they merely unbalance us, at worst they torment us. Work stress, school pressures, projects due, team sports, performing arts auditions, today’s bills, parents’ health, strained family dynamics, cruel gossip, damaging global issues … the list goes on and on. The thorns. They hurt when we become wrapped in their spiny vines, unable to break free.
How can we know if we are approaching the thorns? By being aware of our thoughts and actions. Ask oneself the following questions:
- Does my mind wander frequently to one specific concern?
- Does it interrupt my sleep?
- Does it dominate my conversations?
- Does it causes repeated schedule changes?
- Does my family life suffer?
- Does my time with God suffer … no time for worship, prayer, study or fellowship?
If so, the concern is moving into an all-consuming thorn.
How can we move in a different direction before becoming entangled? Even when planted in a well-fertilized and well-watered garden, plants crowded and choked never reach their potential. The worries of this life strangle our ability to fully serve in God’s kingdom. Anxiety and fear usurp where patience, kindness and gentleness should reign.
Jesus taught “do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25). Paul continued “do not be anxious about anything…” (Philippians 4:6). True, indeed. But difficult to do.
First step to clearing out the thorns is to identify them. Lots of different weeds threaten to encroach. Being mindful with the questions above, help with accurate identification.
Second step is to join hands with a fellow traveler. Two or more together can more easily push through the dense canopy to reach the light.
Among these steps (this is critical!), we must seek to maintain an attitude of faith and trust in God’s ever-present Hand. He truly loves our children, spouse, family, and church with a love more pure and deep than we ever could. It’s the heart of faith.
My prayer: Help me, Lord, to recognize the thorns in my life. Then, help me to respond in healthy ways. Give me your creativity and inspiration! Guide me also to come alongside others whom the spiney vines have ensnared. Amidst it all, may I be able to cast my anxieties at the foot of Your cross.
Read the next post on the Parable of the Sower.