“Sometimes I wonder if what I say to people about God reaches them. I get frustrated that I can't help them see and hear the messages from Yahweh. I don’t want to see them tossed aside, but I feel like I can’t ‘save’ them all. . .”
Have you ever felt this way about your friends and loved ones? On your journey, have you ever wondered why you can’t bring all the berries in from the harvest? I did too. I don’t anymore. I realized some time ago that I am not able to reach everyone. . .
Let me share another lesson from the blackberry patch.
Picking blackberries a couple weeks ago, I tried to reach excessively far to grab 5 or 6 huge, juicy, plump berries in the woods that were about 5 feet away from the edge of our fence. My arms are not even 3 feet long from shoulder to tip of the finger, so you can imagine stretching 5 feet was. . . .A HUGE STRETCH.
As I extended my body out as far as I could over the fence to grab them, balancing on one foot, I got prickled, poked and scratched all over my arm and stomach. Then suddenly, the fence bent a bit too much, almost gave way, and I nearly fell face first into who-knows-what at the base of the berry bushes just the other side of the fence. I am sure I would have found a lot more prickers on my way down to the ground had I not caught myself. I might have also snagged all those thorns the size of tiger claws on the locust trees that have started growing there. I don’t know if we have enough bandaids in the first aid kit for what could have happened. Thank Yahweh I was able to balance myself at the last moment and did not tumble into the briars.
Dejected yet determined (and yes, maybe a bit stubborn, too), I moved my way down the fence line a little bit, picked the berries I could easily reach, and then stretched again to try for a few that were just out of reach. I pulled and grabbed as much as I could but they were still just a few inches out of my grasp. Finally, I lunged just enough to grab the tip of the branch that held the berries I was after. I attempted to grab them, only to have them fall to the ground and disappear out of sight.
I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, so again I moved my way a little FURTHER down the fence, only to try the same thing with similar results: as I lunged toward the berries, I bumped a bigger branch which hit the branch I sought, sending all the ripe berries into the air. I tried to catch a couple in the berry bowl, missed horribly, and they fell to the ground beyond view and very much beyond reach. Thank Yahweh I did not lose the ones I had already harvested in this mêlée.
By this time, I was finally getting a bit wiser, and realized that I have to accept that I just will not get them all. I had to admit that there are just going to be times when, no matter how hard we try, we just will not be able to reach some of the berries on the vine. We can work, stretch, grab, pull, and even lunge, but some berries just don’t seem to want to end up in the berry bowl. No matter what.
There often comes a time when we have to recognize that there is only so much we can do, and that we might need to step back, and allow someone else to have those berries that are out of reach or that fall to the ground. There may be a different purpose for those berries for now. One that we can’t see because of our hope for what we want to come to pass.
You see, although YOU may not be able to reach them all, those berries that fall to the ground will land on soil. As in the parable of the sower, some will land on good ground, some bad. Some in fertile soil, some not. And although it may not be the perfect situation in your own eyes, some of the newly planted seeds from your adventure may sprout anew. In a couple of years, you may be able to pick berries from lovely new bushes that came from those seeds you helped plant. In the end, the berry patch will spread, grow, and reproduce even more sweet fruit to be plucked up by the gardener. It may take time, patience, and cultivation once you see the seeds sprouting, but for now it may also be time to walk away and let Yahweh do the work.
Will I still stretch, and try to reach those who are just out of reach? Yes, I will, yet I have also learned a broader lesson. That is to assess the circumstances and what may happen if I push too hard, stretch too far, or do something that risks sending all the seeds flying in different directions! At some point, I may have to weigh the options and see that there may be consequences to myself, to those close to me, or to those I am trying to bring in from the harvest. Consequences I may not be fully aware of initially. Then again, there are also just some berries that aren’t for me to harvest because I am not able reach them.
Blessings and Shalom.
Matthew 13:3b-8 WEB
"Behold, a farmer went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them. Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn't have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth. When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”
Luke 6:46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things which I say?"
The other day, a friend said to me that sometimes we fail to see what’s right in front of us. What she didn’t know is that she summed up perfectly the lesson I learned recently from our blackberry patch.
I have been praying all season for at least 8 cups of juicy blackberries to come from our patch. I have watched as they grew, blossomed, and attracted bumble bees. Little by little the blossoms turned to berries, they started to plump up, and then they started to ripen. I watched in anticipation as they started to darken, yet it always seemed that the biggest, juiciest, ripest berries were always just out of my reach on the other side of our fence. We own the woods on the other side, so it isn’t that I couldn’t go back there if I wanted to. It IS our property, but it is also where the “wild things” are!
We have been warned since moving in about rattle snakes being seen up this way, so we are very cautious about stepping into the woodsy zone unprotected, unprepared. Every day, though, those juicier, darker berries would tempt me, and every day I would say to myself, “Tomorrow I am going into the woods to get those!” In the mean time, I picked what I could easily find, finally ending up with about 4 cups which was just enough to make a batch of syrup for French toast and two servings of blackberry sorbet.
Sadly, I watched so many berries farther away fall to the ground, over-ripe, rotting as every day I said the same thing, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow." Finally one day I decided THIS IS THE DAY I am going into the woodsy zone. I was even going to dress for success with jeans, hat, long sleeves, herbal spray, boots, the works.
It didn’t take long, though, to change my mind and say, “FORGET IT! Not going.” Two things happened. First, my husband said that even if I picked them, he would not eat them because I went against his wishes and advice by going in the dangerous area where I should not have gone. He then reminded me of all the snakes that had been seen recently by neighbors. Then second: I had a friend post that she had found a timber rattler in her yard where she had never even seen ANY kind of snake before, let alone a venomous one. Reasons enough for me to finally admit it is not worth a couple of cups of blackberries to take such a chance.
Now, let me back track for just a moment to about several weeks ago: I got the impression that I should trim back the wild vines growing in the fence, and cut more of the overhanging tree branches, as well. I had trimmed a few that were obviously in the way earlier in spring, but not as much as I should have. For weeks I kept getting the impression to trim more. Yet I ignored it. Over and over again I ignored it, all the while complaining about my meager harvest and how I couldn’t reach the “best berries.”
Finally, the other day, I broke a branch off one bush that was in the way when I realized it was tangled in some grapevines that had worked their way through the fence in dozens of places. For me to finish the job I would need to trim A LOT of the fence area, on BOTH sides. The best part is that I could easily reach everything that needed trimming from a safe spot in the vegetable garden and not enter the woodsy zone. It was finally time to get to work.
As I cut and cut, you cannot imagine the feeling of repentance that washed over me, and the need inside of me to ask forgiveness for my ignorance and disobedience. You see, as I trimmed, I discovered that there were countless blackberry bushes hiding under all that nonsense, right in front of us.
You could clearly see that at one point, those bushes had been FILLED with blackberries. The obviously once-loaded stems were now hanging there, dried and empty of any juicy blackberries. Those had now rotted and fallen to the ground, wasted, instead of into our pantry as jelly and syrup for fall. It was very clear that had I paid attention to the impressions earlier in the season to trim away the old weeds, cut back on the “nonsense,” we would have had much more than the 8 cups we needed for one batch of jelly. We might have had more than enough for so much more.
Sometimes life is like that, too. We don’t listen to the directions from Yahweh, we don’t trim the weeds and over growth of negative things. We refuse to pay attention to the blessings that are right under our noses. Now Yahweh is busy trying his hardest to make up for my request of 8 cups of berries by showing me previously undiscovered small bushes with a few berries here or there left to add to the bag I have in the freezer. Whatever we do pick is a true blessing.
It is my prayer that we get enough for a full batch, but either way, it is clearly my own fault if we do not. Lesson learned. Moving forward, and praising Yahweh for what we DO have.
Blessings and shalom.
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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