Overrun

It’s barely visible. It sits off the road a bit in a neighbor’s yard. But that’s not why Don had missed it time and time again. No, Don had missed it each time we rounded the block on our walk because it was camouflaged. But this time he noticed. “Look, there’s a swing in there.”

“Yes,” I replied. Underneath and in between the overflow of foliage sat a swing.

I imagine the original owner sitting there in the cool of the evening with his wife, rocking their cares away. Instead of the traffic we now hear zipping by, they hear the cicadas and woodpeckers and other animals rustling about. They watch the sunset, whispering about their day, holding hands underneath a beautiful arch of greenery and blooming, fragrant flowers.

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But now the home is vacant and the swing is overrun. It’s not functional. It cannot be used for its intended purpose. No one can sit and swing. There are obstructions, barriers. Because of the neglect of the owner, the plant life has taken over. The vines have intertwined with each other and the structure in such a manner that the swing is engulfed and unusable. It needs an overhaul. It needs someone to care enough to clear away the obstacles, to snip and chop and carry off the excess plant life.

If we aren’t careful, our lives can be overrun. We may allow something that was once beautiful to take over.  If we don’t keep things in their rightful place, trimming and maintaining, they may overrun us to the point of unusefulness.  We won’t function as we were intended. We must allow the Gardener access to the areas of our lives that may need reduced or shaped.

When we allow things around us to enhance us, to help and not hinder, we will thrive. We will be used by God and glorify Him.

What things, be they materialistic or abstract, are threatening to overrun your life?

Will you go to the Gardener and allow Him to trim it back?

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Mary Was My Age

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Last night we saw a dramatic presentation of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. It was seen through the eyes of several witnesses. One of those witnesses was Mary, Jesus’ mother. The actress, playing the part of Mary, stated she was “old.” Now I know old is a relative term, but it didn’t sit well with me. So I started doing the math.

Tradition states in Biblical times a Jewish girl could be betrothed as young as age 10 or 12. We do not know how old Mary was during her engagement to Joseph, pregnancy, and the birth of Jesus; but, based on common knowledge of the culture at the time, we could guess somewhere between 10 and 16.  What we do know is Jesus was crucified when he was 33. So I added 14 (possible age of Mary at Jesus’ birth) and 33 (Jesus’ age at time of death) and got 47. 47! That’s my age! (That’s NOT old!) But that’s not my point.

When I started thinking of that blessed mother as someone my age, something clicked. There was Mary at the foot of the cross watching her son die. My heart sunk. For Mary, He wasn’t only (as if Jesus could be described as “only” anything) the Messiah; He was the baby she had nursed and the child she had raised.

What if that were my son on the cross? The pain would be excruciating.

I wonder if Mary clung to the hope she had that Sunday was coming. That Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was the hope for the world. That all Gabriel and Jesus had told her would come to pass.

As I walk through trials and hurts of life, I cling to the hope I have.

It may be Friday . . . but Sunday’s a comin’!