The Curse of Thorns

…Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground…”

God speaks these words to man after he disobeys the one-and-only command God asked of him in the garden. (Genesis 3, ESV)

Until then, life was perfect. Man lived in unity with all of Creation and with God. They would walk together and talk. But, the day he decided that he desired to be like God, he realized how little authority and power he had. He is the image of the Creator but could and would never be God Almighty. In his desires, man sold his birthright of the earth to Satan and death took hold.

Thorns and thistles did not exist until this point.

A scientist I know explained thorns as: a leaf, branch, or flower whose potential is cut short. Something beautiful and life giving, when its potential is cut short or not fully realized, becomes painful and intrusive. A thorn is not good for anything. It only causes pain and hardship.

victoria-2016-90When the curse fell on mankind and his relationship with was God severed, potential of the earth and those in it was cut short.

So, it is no minor detail to flip to a story written almost 1500 years later of Jesus. Matthew 27:27-31, Roman soldiers, completely unaware of the curse, twist together a crown of thorns and beat it into the skull of Jesus to mock him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Onto Jesus the curse of the fallen potential of man and the earth was placed.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, bearing the curse of death upon himself.

Even knowing this, how many still live like we are under the curse? The day Jesus died Death lost its power on mankind. Jesus took back our birthright for us. We no longer have to live with the potential of who we are cut short or not fully realized.

The curse is broken. Are you producing flowers or thorns?

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When Nature is Against Us

FishingDr. Patrick had come for a visit. The minute this young, unassuming Papua New Guinean started to talk I could sense an incredible intelligence and perspective that surpassed his twenty-some years of life. He possessed a humorous perspective, as well. He was brimming with stories from Kikori where he served as the sole doctor. With a wide grin, he began his tale of the day nature was against his patients.

He had three hospital patients in a row, lying in their beds. The first had been bitten on the right arm by a crocodile. It was a miracle he was not killed. The second one had his leg ripped open by a wild pig. Finally, the third victim was chopping down a tree with an ax. A tree he unwittingly had not seen a wasps nest in. Soon the nest dropped and wasps had descended on him. As he went to run away with his ax flung over his shoulder, the ax fell, splicing open his calf.

Patrick let out a laugh and we all joined in. “Nature was definitely against us that day!”

We were all intrigued by the crocodile victim and asked him to revisit the story. While the hospitals here have bite injuries coming in from time to time, we always marvel at the people who manage to escape this mighty predator.

The local man had been on a hunt through the swampy bush with his dogs. As he walked through the tangled growth, his dogs let out a resounding bay and took off after a bandicoot – a large rat-like marsupial that lives in the bush.

He paused, looking for the dogs. The animals switched back and went racing past him; the bandicoot fleeing for his life. The terrified marsupial then jumped into the swampy river waters nearby. Panicked, it could not swim and thrashed around.

The man saw this as his opportunity to get a tasty dinner. He entered the water up to his waist and went after the unfortunate creature. So focused on his future dinner the man failed to see a large crocodile waiting just feet away.  Just as he was reaching for the bandicoot, the crocodile reached for the man. Chomping down on his right arm up to the shoulder, the crocodile was about to drag him under.

This is when the hunting dog instinct took over. The dogs, risking their own lives, jumped in the water attacking the crocodile who released their master.

With a badly mutilated arm, the man made his way home. His relatives loaded him into a canoe and took him the 12 hour ride to Kikori Hospital.

Dr. Patrick was awoken at 3 am by two apologetic staff who told him he had a crocodile victim waiting. They had downplayed the man’s injuries. When the groggy doctor came in to check the injury, he was horrified at the severely swollen and bruised appendage. There was little he could do until the bleeding and swelling went down.

So, this is where the man laid, next to his commiserating roommates also suffering from the harshness of nature. I want to say the man is unfortunate, but surviving a croc attack may actually mean the opposite. He was blessed to be alive.

What do you do when nature is against you?