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Late summer in Iowa means it's blackberry-picking time! Several years ago, my husband's brother uncovered an Eden of blackberries on his property while he was clearing away brush. Acres of them. He mowed some pathways through the thick bushes to create easy access to the juicy treasures, and ever since the discovery was made, my husband Mark has been the number one blackberry harvester. In fact, at this very moment, Mark is back in the patch, hoping to break his ten gallon record.

I love to eat the blackberries, but you won't find me actually picking them. I have a sensitivity to poison ivy, an aversion to mosquitoes, and I don't particularly enjoy being cut by the thorns that encircle the clusters of plump fruit. Mark, on the other hand, is fearless in his quest for every ripe berry. He even visits the patch before the fruit is ripe, investigating its maturity and spotting the potential at work. I've never heard him come home saying, “What a bunch of useless berries! They'll never mature!” Nope. Instead, I hear reports like, “Ooooh...just a little longer and they'll be turning color. Just a few more rains and they'll mature into big, sweet berries ready to fall right into my hand.”

And he's right. That's exactly what happens. The interesting thing is that even though he does love the taste of blackberries, that's not what keeps him picking them. He explained to me that the more berries he picks, the more he wants to pick, and that mysteriously, the more personal sacrifice he puts into it, the more rewarding it is. When he has picked all the berries he can reach by standing on the mowed path, he then wades into the brush, which has poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, bugs, and thorns. “The more it costs me personally,” he says, “ the more I want those berries.”

Another Message Here

So, that's why we have a freezer full of wonderful fruit that we'll be enjoying in a cobbler, pies, and jelly come January! But there's another message here. I'm thinking of Jesus and the large harvest of people that he so desperately wants to reach. How puny and immature we must seem to him. He could so easily look at us for who we are rather than at the potential of who he plans for us to be.

So he rains the Holy Spirit on us and feeds us with his word and carefully watches us become sweeter until we are ready to fall into his waiting hand. And the more distant we are from him, the more he wants to reach us. The more he has sacrificed of himself to find us, the more he wants to make contact. He has suffered pain, rejection, and even death in order to finally be able to stretch his hand deep into the dark, thorny existence where we abide, never being satisfied to leave us to die. The more it cost him personally, the more he wants us. And it cost him everything.

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world" (John 17:24).

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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