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Thursday, December 29, 2016

From a bramble comes...

"Beauty is not all there is of poetry. It must contain the truth. It is not simply an oak, rude and grand, neither is it simply a vine. It is both. Around the oak of truth runs the vine of beauty." (Robert Green Ingersoll) I have a friend in social media who posts wonderfully beautiful photos of scenery - but the most eye-catching are some of those she posts of these simple twists and turns from vines and bramble bushes in her vicinity. She captures the beauty of those magnificently plain and simple sightings in such a way so as to depict them much like a poet writes words on a page. The beauty in something so twisted and mangled is not usually that which we would be drawn to at first, but when you consider the complexity of the vine from which that twist grows, you begin to see something way beyond a rambling bush or a trailing vine. You see such things as tenacity, courage, and conviction. Most don't even stop to consider that bramble bush or trailing vine - but one who looks for truth will have an eye that spots it!

He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me. Listen to him. (Deuteronomy 18:15 VOICE)

The bramble bushes we might be most familiar with are those of the raspberry and blackberry. From straggly, sprawling, thorn-covered vines taking root in places often not inhabited by other things come these wonderfully rich fruits that enrich our lives with such wonderful treats. Brambles don't seem like much at first, because they don't usually bear any fruit in their first year of growth. They just seem to be a little bit intrusive and kind of wild appearing. Then sometime in that second year or so, the fruit begins to set on those spindly and scraggly vines. When it does, all of nature is drawn to that fruit - birds light on the branches to peck away at their rich flavor, bears are drawn to the scent of the luscious fruit, and even humans brave the ragged thorns to draw from the rich treasure of these bushes.  Most bramble bushes are the hatching grounds for many species of moths and feeding grounds for butterflies galore. Does it amaze anyone else that something so "harsh appearing" can give so much beauty and sustenance to those who have learned of its richness?

We might find it hard to imagine that some of the most awesome things come from what doesn't appear to have much potential of producing such things. In fact, we are habitually judging things and others by what we imagine - not always what is there. When we look upon that object or person, we see what they display outwardly, often missing what they are inwardly - what potential they have which they have yet to display. As with the bramble bush growing in a craggy outcrop of a hillside, the immediate evidence of the richness produced from such a "thorny" and "obnoxious" vine may not be quickly apparent. In time, the seemingly aimless growth of that scraggly vine begins to produce something of strength not realized by those who have never explored it fully. You see, the bramble bush is often used as that which binds baskets together, for the stem of the bush can be easily split and retain strong binding power. The vine itself has a use, as does that which it produces - both leaf and fruit. Nothing of the vine is wasted - nothing of the bramble is without purpose.

I wonder if those who looked on the small child growing up in the home of a carpenter those many, many years ago saw much potential in him. I imagine they saw another carpenter, at best. But...did they see the fruit he would produce later in his life, or did they see the strength he would not only display, but produce when interwoven into the lives of others he would impact later in his years? Did they see that nothing of his life would be wasted - nothing was without a purpose? Did they think of his teachings as a little "harsh" and hard to handle at times? I imagine they did, but it didn't make them any less true. The "vine" would produce much more than it looked like it had the potential of producing, indeed! We might look upon each other as without potential or purpose. I would challenge us to look deeper into the "bramble" of our lives and see not the thorns, or the spindly growth, but the strength, determination, and richness of Christ's life within, bringing forth that which none expected and which so many need!  Just sayin!