Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Texas Grass-Burs and God's Armor

Most things Texas are wonderful.
People. Sunsets. Bluebonnets. Garden tomatoes for supper. Bare feet in the cool of an evening.

Texans are especially known for toughness and in this record-breaking, soul-cracking drought, our toughness comes in mighty handy.

We Texas humans are also known—on occasion—to be
Ó Stubborn
Ó Obstinate
Ó Determined
And a few other descriptions that don’t fit well in this format.

But let me tell you: There is nothing good about a Texas grass sticker-bur.

In my 70+ years, I’ve learned to live with spiders, stay away from scorpions, pray against snakes, and ration water.
But I cannot deal with Texas grass burs. They live forever. They never die. They cannot be destroyed.

Our grass burs are

Imperishable M Indestructible M Perpetual M Permanent.

And  Eternal.

Those evil stickers lurk in sand, grass, and weeds. When human skin connects suddenly with a Texas grass bur, the grass bur always wins. It digs in deep and draws blood. A sticker bur is small and evil and embeds itself into said flesh.

And it continues to live in the surface of the soft threads of carpet.

Grass burs overrun Texas.

Texas grass burs can live happily without blooming in any kind of soil for up to TWENTY years. Then, after one little rain shower, wham. Old seeds pop up into wicked stickers before the rainbow come out. And without rain, the stickers are like tiny razors in the dirt.

We have an outdoor mat on our front porch that is supposed to trap most of the burs from the soles of our sneakers and it does a so-so job. Then, just inside the front door is a braided rug that pulls some of the remaining demons off our shoes. So, for a time, my life-long Texas feet walk around in sweet denial that the rest of the floors in the house are relatively safe.

HA !!!

The longer a grass bur stays in the rug, the deeper it goes into the weave. The sticker dries and becomes brittle and razor sharp. The little spikes break off and entrench themselves into the flesh of a tender, human foot. Or finger. Sometimes, the splinter is so tiny it can’t be found to be removed and sinks ever deeper into the tissue. Next, it gets infected and the doctor removes it with special instruments, applies bandages, and sends you home with expensive antibiotics. If you are lucky, you don’t have to get a tetanus shot.

Occasionally, I sit on the floor of the front porch and pick grass burs out of the rug. Today was the day to de-bur the carpet. Each time I worked a sticker free from the threads of the rug, I thought,  Ah Ha! Gotcha before you get me!

Gradually I began to realize that no, the thorn got me first, second, and third. When I pulled up a particularly vicious thorn, I held that little sticker in my hand and thought, Yeah, you are just like that little sin I tried to cover up. The one that lived a very long time. And multiplied. And got buried away from the light of day. And attacked me at any weak moment.

The longer I looked at that tiny, dried up sticker the more evil it became. Like my sin. Both the spike and my sin grew larger. The microscopic barb/sin is insidious, dangerous, subtle, menacing, ominous, threatening, intimidating, hostile, aggressive, bullying. Trying to get rid of the stickers in my carpet—and the sin in my life—was a debilitating job. Before it was finished, I dissolved into tears and my fingers dripped blood.

Finally, I remembered that blood dripped from the side of Jesus the Christ for my sin and I prayed for forgiveness.

As I said, this old Texan is often stubborn and I jumped into the sticker job before preparing properly. Had I simply donned my garden gloves and used pointed-nose pliers I could have walked away from de-burring the carpet in half the time and totally pain free.

You know the life solution already, right??? When I live prepared in my soul, I can withstand sin much easier.
God even gave us precise, exact instructions. Laid out clear as a Texas summer sky.

God’s Word. The Holy Bible. Ephesians. Chapter Six….

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the
¨     belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the
¨     breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with
¨     your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Amazing!! I’ve been tired and sick and negligent lately and it took the almost invisible sticker from a Texas grass bur to remind me of God’s greatest shield against exhaustion and illness and laziness.
          Thank You, Holy Father that even and especially in our weakness you remain strong and pure and faithful.
May you be blessed by God’s Word as together we stand firm!