Sunday, May 29, 2016
Bread For The Journey
In our most recent travels along the coast of California, I saw fields with artichoke heads bobbing to and fro. Finally I had the opportunity to taste a grilled artichoke. It was delicious ... though it took awhile to eat. As I slowly peeled off the layers with my teeth, I realized that the tender fragile leaves required much effort to remove before you eventually found a tender heart.
Artichokes really don't look pretty from the outside. They are prickly and take some time to prepare. They have very thick, rugged layers of leaves and look like they belong to the 'thistle family.'
Many of us live with layers of fear or discouragement. Each layer or leaf can represent a situation in our life. Our heart's condition is shaped by our thoughts and attitudes. I reflected on this analogy for a long time as I gazed out at the fields.
This past week it was more beautifully expressed as I held my frightened grandchild. She saw a rough-looking man who spoke with a harsh voice. She was frightened. I looked down and saw her eyes tear up, as I felt her fingers grasp my hand tighter and tighter. I asked her if she wanted to be cuddled, and I picked her up feeling her heart pulse beating against my chest and hearing her quiet sobs. Within a few moments she was consoled and ready to move forward again. I knew that this man's outward appearance looked rough, but that inside he has the most tender heart of all. I was getting to the heart of the matter as she sobbed and told me about her fears.
Even in our adult years, we need to be cuddled and consoled. Most of us have met people with a harsh exterior, which can be frightening. But when you've spent time with them, getting to know them, you find out that they have tender hearts just like all of us. Sometimes we don't know about the difficult conditions that shaped them and by spending time with them, we begin to have a better understanding.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of life. Proverbs. 4:23
It doesn't say someone else will protect your heart ... not your pastor, or a friend. YOU need to guard your heart. Guarding our hearts is a full-time job. People hurt us and disappoint us and we have wounds deep inside that need to be dealt with. God can bring us peace and happiness in the middle of the lousiest circumstance, including the turmoil that's evident in the world today.
Let's ask God to remove the layers so that we can be who He created us to be. Let's allow God to get to the matter of our hearts, by praying and meditating day and night on His words. (Joshua 1:8)