May currents of living water flow forth from each of us, supporting the oil of the Spirit to reflect His brilliant light!
|Photo by Timothy A. Gonsalves 2016|
I had a dream in which I found myself face down in the dust, in a strange terrain that was sandy but overgrown with tiny, delicate flowers in a variety of colors, as if Van Gogh had shaken out his brushes over the ground. It reminded me of the Burren, a rocky plateau formation near the coast in western Ireland, home to many unique floral species growing in tiny crevices in the stone.
As I struggled to lift my head from the ground, I saw a thistle directly before me, its purple dome held erect by a thorny green stem. I focused on it for a moment, but my eyes were then drawn upward to the spectacular view before me – a craggy, gray pointed mountain with sun glinting off the snow-capped peak. I climbed onto my knees then stood up straight, arms outstretched as I breathed in the invigorating Alpine air.
I awoke still joyful in the epiphany of all things becoming new (2 Corinthians 5:17), in the transformation from groveling in the dirt to being uplifted as if to the very summit. I believe the dream was a reminder to change my perspective from the horizontal to the vertical, from the trials to the triumph, from the earthly to the heavenly.
The dream began with me prone in the dust, an extreme position of abasement with which Satan, that old serpent, was cursed when he successfully tempted Eve to disobey God (Genesis 3:14). Because of Adam and Eve’s transgression, the curse of sin has fallen on all mankind, and defines our journey unless and until we escape it by being born again (John 3:3-8).
Once we trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we are freed from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23), and from the power of sin to control our thoughts, words and actions, through our new nature yielded to the Holy Spirit. One day in Heaven we will be freed from even the presence of sin, as our glorified bodies will sin no more (1 Corinthians 15:39-50).
Just as God created man from the dust and breathed life into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7), so can He resurrect us from the pit of sin and death to heavenly places with Him, even in this worldly existence (Ephesians 1:3). While we still walk – or crawl, if need be – upon this earth, He consoles us with unexpected glimpses of beauty, like wildflowers piercing through barren rock in a vibrant palette of color.
Traditionally, the thistle is said to symbolize trials, or toughness, pain and aggression accompanying difficult life experiences. An old Spanish proverb states, “He that has a good harvest must be content with some thistles.”
Thistles were part of the curse sin brought on Adam, for God told him that he would have to endure hard labor tilling the soil for food, and that his harvest would be choked by thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:18). When Job claimed his innocence before God, he vowed that thistles could overrun his wheat field if he were lying (Job 31:40). Jesus explained that we could know a man’s heart by the fruit of his actions and character, for grapes do not come from thorns, nor figs come from thistles (Matthew 7:16).
On this earth, we have to contend with thorns and thistles in the midst of wildflowers and wheat harvest. The apostle Paul spoke of his “thorn in the flesh,” or affliction as a messenger of Satan that God used to keep him from being prideful (2 Corinthians 12:7). Being saved does not spare us from trials, but it gives us the endurance to go through them by following our Savior’s loving guidance.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus uses the illustration of good seed becoming unfruitful because it is choked by thorns, representing wealth as an idol that can hinder us from hearing and following God’s Word (Matthew 13:3-23).
As I look at the photo I chose for this blog post, I am struck by how the thistle head resembles the crown of thorns Jesus wore for us as He hung on the cross (Mark 15:17), suffering for us the pain we deserved as the penalty for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). The purple bloom is a fitting reminder of His royalty as King of Kings (Revelation 19:16) and divinity as Son of God (1 John 5:20), while the green stem calls to mind eternal life (Psalm 52:8; Jeremiah 17:8).
So the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ elevates all who trust in Him from the shame and death caused by sin to the hope (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3; Hebrews 6:19), victory and power of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:57). In the dream, the brilliant white mountain peak represents the holiness and purity we receive not through any works or merit of our own (Ephesians 3:8-9), but only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:22; James 2:23) that clothes us like a pristine wedding garment (Isaiah 61:10).
May we look up (Luke 21:28), keeping our focus on His perfection, beauty and holiness! May we experience His victory over our sin and death as He seats us in heavenly places with Him in this life and leads us to eternal life in the next!
© 2022 Laurie Collett
|Photo by Marwan Mohamad 2016|