Faithfully, they stretch wide before me. It is the second week of June. It is time to gather the harvest. Black raspberries, and after, blackberries, sprawl over the outermost portion of my backyard.
I carefully begin to cut away the weeds and reposition the unwelcoming briar bushes – also known as “jaggars.”
“Daddy would be proud,” I think. He who took me every year in somber search would want me not to waste these. Of course he set them here for me to find. Soon after he was gone, they found their way into my backyard and beckoned of blessing. Little wonder why they grow so close to Father’s Day.
Daddy gave the gifts. How can I not go out and harvest them? Still, I feel like Christian in “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Poison, snakes, thorns, heat, and my personal favorite, ticks likely await as I begin my journey into the blessed brush.
Cut the thorns away. Cut too many and the shade-less berries will dry up. Leave some thorns. Be gentle. I must, must, must remember gentleness when picking my treasures lest I squish them, drop them, or get impaled by an intrusive thorn. Move the vine, just a little, and a whole new load of berries are unveiled. Shake the vine too hard and they will fall to the ground lost. Dropping even just one into the place of no return is tragic to me. The utmost care must be taken with each new find.
Now begin again. Think of Christian. Think of Christ. Is this not how we are to make disciples? I reckon it surely seems familiar. I liken these blessed berries to those to whom we must preach the gospel; those to whom Our Father has given us; those whom he has placed in our own yard, ripe for the picking, no, choosing, perhaps. Only he is the one who has done the choosing beforehand. We have simply come to reap the harvest.
I feel like the lumberjack the little girl Lori always wanted so very much to be. To my surprise, just the other day I discovered that my very name – my married name, that is – literally means, “to clear away, area of forest designed for clearing, to chop or cut down.” I can hardly contain my excitement knowing that I have veritably been a lumberjack of sorts for the past fifteen years.
The Lord gives the desires of the heart. He gives the gifts. He makes them ripe and ready. He asks us to harvest – carefully, gently, painstakingly. And when we do, he shows up every time. He changes our name, fifteen years go by, and we fail to even realize who we have become.
His. We are his. That is, Our Father’s. We love what he loved. We do what he did. We are the remnant of who he is. We are not of him because we are like him, we are like him precisely because we are of him.
And he is always with us in the garden that he made especially for us – even after the thorns have come.
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” ~Genesis 3:17-19