Recently a friend in my church lost her cell phone while walking a trail in the woods. The following day my Pastor organized a rescue mission with a band of us to re-trace her steps so we could find her phone. Thankfully we were successful in the mission about a mile in, but the terrain on our path was not necessarily easy. It was rocky and fairly over grown in places. Every once in a while I got waylaid by thorny vines or what I called “wait-a-minute-bushes”. My daughter was puzzled when I revealed the new nick name for these pesky vines so I explained to her, “it is like you are walking along minding your own business and they reach out and grab you by the leg or arm, out of no where, and say, ‘wait a minute’.” Of course, we both chuckled but truly, they stopped you in your tracks and you couldn’t go anywhere until you dealt with them.
The deal is – since that beautiful, peaceful day with objective accomplished; these tricky vines have stuck in my mind. I suppose with 2017 coming to a close and the New Year approaching, I am somewhat contemplative, but it seems to me that these wait-a-minute bushes act much like the Holy Spirit in our lives. You are going along in one direction and then sometimes, out of seemingly nowhere, a reading in Scripture, the prompting of the Spirit (when we are listening) or an honest friend stops you in your tracks and says, “wait-a-minute”. These interventions may, at times, seem like unwelcome intrusions or “thorns in our sides” (pun intended) but in the end, they direct our paths and move us towards God’s better, but unexpected, plan rather than our own charted course.
A few scriptures come to mind that perhaps correlate with the idea.
Isaiah 30:21 If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: “This is the way; walk in it.”
Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says: Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the old, godly way and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls.
Psalm 23:3 He guides me in proper paths for the sake of His good name.
Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to suffer so that I might learn your statues
Psalm 119:32 I run the same path as your commandments because you give my heart insight.
After escaping from Egypt into the dessert, Moses settled down in a quiet, perhaps simple and comfortable life. Then one day, which probably seemed like any other day, he is about his business when a bush, like no other bush, catches his attention and says, “wait-a-minute God has another plan for you.” His life and his family’s life was never the same as a result of that encounter with the ordained shrub. In fact, God used that bush to not only re-direct his life but an entire race, as well. Moses listened and obeyed his wait-a-minute bush and a nation was changed, giving God incredible glory that continues to testify and teach us today about our Lord.
So my question is – as the New Year approaches, how will you respond to the thorny vines that reach out and grab you? Stop you in your tracks? It may be a trial, a brother or sister that asks you a pointed, thought-provoking question, the Spirit speaking to your heart as you are reading His word or a divinely appointed circumstance that catches you off guard. Be aware, be attentive, be willing to stop and wait a minute to consider, via the Spirit, the pokes and prods or the attention-getters he puts in your path. You just never know the eternal results.
Shelly Bergland is the Ministry Assistant at Fellowship at Cross Creek in Branson, Missouri, An Imperfect Church for Imperfect People