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Thorns and Thistles

Things don’t always go smoothly. Michael Bortman’s auto parts store was having a particularly snake-bitten day.

Customer after customer returned parts. Employees were frustrated by the extra work required. The final straw came when a body-shop repairman called to say that he had ordered 60 parts – all for the wrong side of the car. One of the employees had to stay late to pull the correct parts. Before leaving, he amended one of several inspirational posters Bortman had placed around the business.

The poster read: "The Standard Is Excellence, The Goal Is Perfection." The stressed worker had added: "The Reality Is Murphy!"

The mythical Murphy proclaimed the law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Endless variations have followed: “Interchangeable parts won't; leak-proof seals will; a short cut is the longest distance between two points.” They all describe our all-too-common experience that things often go wrong.

That really isn’t Murphy’s law, though. It’s actually God’s. Oh, he worded it differently, but he’s the one who first said that things would always go wrong in this world. Way back in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of time, just after Adam’s rebellion, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Genesis 3:17-18).

Thorns and thistles. Work will not go easily. Houses will require constant repair. Dandelions will grow in the front lawn. Cars will stall. Computers will crash. Endless obstacles and interminable troubles – that’s what has been promised to us. It’s what we should expect. It’s all part of the thorns and thistles.

Do thorns and thistles drive you crazy? We live with them every day, yet they frustrate us enormously because we forget to expect them. Life goes along smoothly for stretches of time so that we begin to expect that to continue. Bad mistake.

As you go through your week, expect thorns and thistles. Know they are coming. As you plan your day, plan for them by preparing to react calmly. When thorns and thistles crop up, instead of cursing, be reminded that they are part of a curse. When they block your path, think of them, not as punishment, but as prompters to keep you from being too comfortable in a world that was never meant to be your home.

Thorns and thistles. God does offer a paradise without them. Just not in this world.


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