Having just cleaned the garage, I found my husband's leather work gloves, the kind that only cover the palm but leave your fingers bare to the elements and presumed sawdust. I think this is because the genius minds behind the glove design assume you'll cut a finger off so they save the good leather for the rest of the hand. Either way, they were huge on me, and the leather felt awkward as I'm not a carpenter and do not wear these type of gloves on a routine basis, but I figured they'd help protect my hands from thorns.
With my oldest kids in tow, we started cleaning out the vines that had tangled the bush. I take that back. My son helped while my middle child decided to take a nap on the family swing in the yard, gazing off and daydreaming with the clouds. She always manages to get out of the hard work. My son, the helpful child, decided to wear some of his sisters latex medical gloves, I suppose because to him a glove was a glove. He had yet to learn that just because it was on his hand, that didn't mean the thorns would protect him and not poke through, though as our work got under way my son slowly discovered that these were not the right gloves for the job. Surprisingly he stayed beside me and continued to help, just being more careful with where he reached for the vine at to avoid more thorny thickles (as he calls them).
Somewhere in the midst of yanking vines and untangling branches and feeling all of the tiny thorny thickles prick my fingers, I was reminded that my life is like that giant bush, and the vines taking slow residence are like the world, slowly creeping in to fill the gaps where I let my guard down or I let life in general take over without keeping my eyes on the cross in the process. Often this life with not just Chloe and her needs, but raising our young family in general, leaves those gaps open these days and I'm left to summon the strength to reach in and pull those thistle strewn vines out and away, trying to be cautious and aware of their presence so that they do not fully overcome me.
And then sometimes, I'm learning that I cannot be the one to pull all of those weeds away. No matter how much I reach and stretch, there are still weeds at the top of that bush that are sitting up there, dancing in and around each delicate branch without care as to how much life it is taking from the bush. I stood on the curb beside the wooden fence and tried to hold the fence with one hand, balance on one foot, and lean in and reach through the thorny bush to get to the prickly vine, and when my fingers finally touched the edge, only a sliver of the vine was I able to pull down. I didn't even care that I was reaching through thorns in order to do this, but I was determined to get that vine out one way or another. I could have gotten a ladder, but it wouldn't reach them all even still. I could have asked another person to help, to intervene but even they would not have been able to reach the top weeds.
I pondered the fact that try as I may, only He can reach the weeds that are wrapped around my heart and need removed. Only the Lord can then breathe new life into me and grow me again. And only with God can I even be willing to reach my hand into thorny territory of what is in hopes of cleaning out the mess that is within in order to restore the richness to this plant that once was. I could leave them there, out of sight//out of mind strategy, but as with any weed, they'll just continue to grow more. Although it'd mean more work, more effort to ease them out, it would be the better choice in the long run. I could try to protect myself in the process and do it on my own but that was proving too big of a job. I could carelessly just try to fix it, just like my son thinking that any piece of material covering his hands would surely do the job and protect him from getting hurt by the thorns. I knew better for him. I knew those latex gloves were nothing but a single thin layer, ready to break the instant a thorn speared through them, and was able to explain that to him so that he was more careful with how he untangled the messy vines. Likewise, my Father knows what will best protect me and what will help me to carefully remove the tangled mess while still keeping the beauty of the plant intact.
So I choose Him. He gets the bid. He gets to do the job of restoring the delicateness that is beneath the tangles. And then
He reveals the blossom of a new flower. Life again. Breathed back in, no longer choked by the weeds of this world. Yes, it hurt to pass my flesh by those thorns in order to accomplish the work before me, but I'm finding the more I abide in Him, and He in me, the more beautiful those blossoms are, and how much more often they're in bloom.