In Consideration of Thistles
People tend to give up. We give up on things. We give up on each other. We call it “falling out of love”, but it is really a relationship that we have consciously decided to stop investing ourselves in. We choose to love; we choose to not love. We choose to stay or we choose to move on. I appreciate that there are all kinds of factors that go into such decisions, but no one just happens to “fall out of love”. Rightly or wrongly, we decide to give up on that relationship.
I find it interesting how often in Scriptures we read different people begging God to not give up on us. In my morning prayer just today, Jeremiah pleads: “For your name’s sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory; remember your covenant with us, and break it not.”
Truth be told, we have given up on God countless times. It’s called sin. We have sinned as a collective of humankind, as races, as nations, as any number of countless factions, and as individuals. And yet God does not give up on us. Inspired people like Jeremiah have pleaded with God not to give up, not because they were afraid that God would give up, but in recognition that it is only in God’s love that we have any hope. Our love, we know, is going to fall short all too often. God’s love is constant.
If you have any thoughts that God either has or will give up on us, or on you in particular, consider thistles. Jesus spoke about thistles. They were the weed that grew up and choked off the word of God that the Sower planted. Sounds ominous. Sounds like there is nothing redeeming in thistles if even Jesus used them as a metaphor for the troubles or the world.
My yard has it’s share of thistles. I’ve had many thistle pricks, cuts and scratches from digging them up. If you’ve tried to pull one up you know how fortified they are. Not only do all of the leaves have stiff needle-sharp thorns, but even the stem has thorns that can pierce garden gloves. But then August comes and the thistles blossom.
The thistle flower is quite unique. The petals are more like hairs. I don’t know of another wildflower with petals like that. My wildflower guide calls the thistle flower a ‘plume’. Again, that is the only flower that I have heard of referred to that way. The plume, unlike everything else about the thistle, is soft to the touch. And the color is also quite unique. They are in the “purple” section of my Peterson Guide. Purple is a color of royalty in Scripture and in many ancient cultures. But they are more striking than the simple word “purple”, with more of a pink tone, like a blending of the colors of candles in the Advent wreath.
Now is the time to look for a blooming thistle. When you see the bright plumes shining in the new day’s sunshine, consider its beauty amidst its thorns. God is here, even in the thistle. God never gives up.