Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thorn Bush Sheltering

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
 ~Albert Schweitzer

RB called, "Meijer has blackberries for fifty cents a half pint.  Do you need any?"  Two batches of blackberry jam later, I had 19 jars of deep black-purple beauty on my kitchen counter -- sweet-tart, filled with bits of berry -- taste bud frosting on toast.

Of course, I took the easy way.  Store to home to jam.  I wasn't a part of growing or picking. I keep saying every year I'm going to plant berry bushes, but haven't. And I certainly didn't mind not getting scratched while picking those beauties.

In life, it's not that simple.  We can't just decide we want to shelter the easy people -- the people who have had their thorns sanded off.  Many times those thorny people have become prickly by having their dreams dropped, hopes bent and plans kinked.  One disappointment after another has left them frustrated with life.

A long-hoped-for event falls through.
A relationship ends.
The promotion goes to another.
An investment fails.

It makes them prickly.  Just like those who came to Jesus.

A paralytic hoped of walking, all but hidden under his mat.
Matthew, tired of taxpayers' anger when he was just doing his job.
A desperate man, haunted by demons, tired of the day-to-day struggle of living.
A father, heart twisted and pained by the death of his daughter.

These, too, had their thorns.  Yet Jesus overlooked the thorns and was filled with compassion (Matthew 9:36).

Can I overlook the thorns?  I so want my heart to be filled with compassion.  Compassion without excuses.  No, I would but... No secret thoughts of really, her, Lord? No careless I will -- later.

Henri Nouwen said, “Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken."

It can be hard. We may not want to shelter "the hard ones." But let's follow Jesus, entering into the disappointments of others. Maybe all it takes is a jar of jam and a loaf of homemade bread (wrapped with compassion) to make them feel the shade from your sheltering tree.

Who will you shelter this week?


Jane said...

Compassion is one of those things that become easier the more you do it. Once you figure out what makes those hard-to-love people tick, it really helps. It usually boils down to two things, I've found, just as you said, they've been disappointed in events of their lives, or they were neglected as children and are distrustful of others.

Unknown said...

That is a really great question. Thanks for getting me thinking this morning. :)


Create With Joy said...


What a beautiful and much needed message! I hope you are also having a beautiful day and I would love it if you would share this at Inspire Me Monday!


LeAnn said...

I really loved this post. I know first hand how hard it can be to work with the broken; and to assist in healing their hearts and circumstances. My husband and I are serving an Inner City Mission and there are a lot of challenges. I pray all of the time to have a compassionate heart and the gift of discernment.
I loved your analogy and thoughts on the savior.
Blessings to you for a great post.

Sharon said...

This was a wonderful post. It both challenged and convicted me - but that's a good thing. I was instantly reminded of my aging "prickly" dad - who's getting thornier all the time. I know that God is calling me to spend more time with him. He needs the shelter of people who love him - in spite of the difficulty of being around him sometimes.

Yes, compassion - may the Lord help me to not just be LIKE Jesus, but to actually BE HIM - so that I can take Jesus' love to my dad.


Making Memories 1999 said...

"Compassion without excuses. No I would but... No secret thoughts of really, her, Lord? No careless I will -- later." That was good AND convicting! Thank you so much for this challenging post. I would like to link to it from my blog, if that's ok. Blessings!

nannykim said...

Great post--we just read some of those Bible passages tonight too--always so amazed at God's love--blows my mind. This is what I want in my life--I want to be able to show forth more of his love in my words, actions, thoughts, etc---what a challenge.

Esther Asbury said...

Your post is right on target and something God has talked to me about lately. Some people are easy to shelter, but it's probably the "hard ones" that need it most! Lord help me!

Nikki (Sarah) said...

this is so good Pamela. Overlooking the thorns....We all have some....all the more reason to walk gently. Sending you a ton of hugs and wishing you a great Friday.

Rhoda said...

Hi Pamela, don't worry about not reading the instructions on my blog, you're not the only one lol! Anyway it's nice to meet you! Thanks for this post -very timely for me. It can be very hard to shelter thorny people who have been through a lot, and we can get so close that we forget what has made them that way, and forget to be compassionate.

HeARTworks said...

Hi Pamela, as usual your post makes me think! This morning during my prayer time, I read Streams in the Desert (one of my favorite books) and what struck me was this: "It takes sorrow to widen the soul."
For those people who are prickly and difficult because of some sorrow or other, perhaps they did not let God in for healing. What does not kill us makes us strong. In other words, the same circumstance can make one person strong and compassionate, and another hard and unforgiving. Have a great weekend! Patsy from

Joan Hall said...


One of my prayers has been that I would be more compassionate as I often feel that I don't show enough compassion to others. I like the Nouwen quote. I have never thought about compassion opening up areas of vulnerability in myself.

Thank you for this wonderful post and for linking up at Reflections of His Grace.


HisFireFly said...


I believe you will light fires everywhere you go --

and shelter many.

This was beautiful!

a joyful noise said...

Jesus did all the preparation and all we need to do is make the JAM.
Excellent post!

a joyful noise said...

Jam from store to home and a simple preparation. How lovely. No thorns or cultivation. People are not always easy to deal with, but if we use the grace given to us, we can enjoy the fruit of the labor of Jesus.

Esther Joy said...

Very appropriate post that goes well with the name of your blog! Sometimes I guess God wants US to be "A Shelter in the Time of Storm"!

♥ my diary♥ said...

nice post thanks for sharing...blessings soraya

Polly said...

great message and reminder!

Nicole weaver said...


Oh my goodness , what an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing it.

Nicole Weaver
Trilingual Children's Author

Charlotte said...

Good thoughts, Pamela. Those who are the "thorniest" probably need compassion the most. Thank you for calling this to our attention in such an interesting way. By the way I love blackberry jam but I would also opt to get it at the grocery store.

Rina Peru said...

At dawn today, I woke up with a heavy heart because of a discussion with a loved one that turned sour, hurt me and made me cry the evening before. When I went back to bed, the Lord whispered to my heart: He reminded me that He put this person into my life and thus, I have to embrace this person wholly, imperfections and all, and don't give up. SWEET PEACE flooded my heart.