Fruit Among the Thorns

Fruit Among the Thorns

My husband fondly remembers picking raspberries from the bushes in his grandparents yard.  I've heard stories about hot summer days picking berries, and even a few raspberry fights that broke out.  We wanted that experience to be part of kids childhood too.

Last week on one of his days off we decided to take our kids to a local farm to pick raspberries.  We coated them in sunscreen, bug spray, put hats on their heads and sleeves on their arms.  They were ready to collect this delicious fruit, and to avoid any pitfalls that come with picking raspberries.  

The sleeves were my husband's idea.  He remembered that raspberry plants have thorns, I did not.  As you pick the berries, especially raspberries that are growing wild, you need to be careful of the plant so that you don't get scratched.  The farm we were visiting made picking a pretty easy endeavor and only our youngest was scratched and this was because she tried to walk through the wall of raspberry plants to get to the next row. 

Among the thorns of life is where peace can be found.  As I've spent the past week thinking about peace here are a few thought that have stuck with me.

1. The word for peace found in Galatians is the Greek word irene. It means a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals; safety, security, prosperity, and felicity.  I don't know about you, but I feel like I need more peace both in my personal life as well as in the world around me.  I should spend more time in pursuit of peace, and asking for it.

2. My idea of peace has always seemed to go along with the idea that your mind isn't troubled, and a general lack of struggle.    As I've been mulling it over, I think that not only difficulty that makes you desire peace but also the struggle to achieve it is necessary in order to reach peace. In the same way that you must go past the thorny branches in order to get to the raspberry fruit, you have to work through the painful places.  Also, you can't appreciate the lack of something unless you have experienced the presence of it. It is the struggle, anxiety, or worry that drives me to ask for help, or to really work at praying.  

In Philippians 4:6-7 in The Message it says, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.It is all about how your react in those difficult situations.  Do I focus on the worry, or does it bring me back to God? 

3.   The experience of peace that surpasses understanding is far closer to the experience of finding and picking wild raspberries.  It can comes as a surprise, the fruit is sweeter, and there is an adventure and challenge in reaching it too.  I have come to expect safe almost engineered or farmed experience of peace, not the wild and challenging type of peace.  I would like to have both in my diet.

4. I don't think we should expect to exist in a constant state of peace.  In the same way that bushes have a season of fruit and a season of being without fruit, I think we should expect seasons of life that we wait for peace to appear.  I wouldn't appreciate peace if it was always there.

5. Peace requires action.  It is worth the pursuit.  In Philippians 4, it is a conscious choice to not hold on to anxiety, or worry. In the same way peace between two individuals takes action as well. When I find myself needing peace, there are actions I can take.  This action is prayer, specifically praising God, telling Him what I am anxious or worried about, and being thankful.  I find it easy to tell God where I am feeling worried, but praising Him and focusing on who God is and choosing gratitude are more challenging.  They are areas where the challenge is worth it though because time and time choosing gratitude and praise is what transforms me.

Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
— Philippians 4:6-7