Friday, August 5, 2011

Devotion: A THORNY ISSUE - Shirley Corder

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surprisingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." II Corinthians 12:7 NIV

The sprinkler was in the middle of the lawn and the garden hose was running. I needed to move it to another spot. Not stopping to put on shoes, I ran onto the lawn in my bare feet. 

Unfortunately our lawn is not of the same calibre as the bowling green. I spent the next half-hour regretting my rash behaviour as I sat on the floor, picking out dozens of tiny but painful duiweltjie dorings.

Dorings (thorns) are plentiful in Africa as they probably are throughout the world. 
The well-named "Thorn Tree" (left) boasts long, evil-looking spears that can do a real damage if you tramp on one that's fallen to the ground. 

I have painful memories of a time when I was about eight-years-old. I was riding my bicycle along a cycle path and I took a tumble, landing on my knee on one of these spikes. It took my father a long time to dig it out with a sterilized needle, accompanied by my piercing screams!

Then of course we have the beautiful thorns, like the ones on this rose stem. Beautiful, but protective. You think twice before you pick one of these thorns. Ouch! Better wear rubber gloves next time.

Back to the duiweltjies on my lawn. These nasty little things actually look quite cute, and in season they sport a pretty little flower. You would never expect them capable of inflicting pain--until you walk on one. 

 The name "duiweltjie" means "little devil" and that's just what they are. Sometimes they are tiny, and you wouldn't think they could hurt at all. But just let one slip into your shoe and you will soon realise how wrong you are.
The apostle Paul was given a “thorn in his flesh” to prevent pride. We don’t know details, but from my experience in the garden I do know certain things.
  • It was painful; not something he could ignore.
  • He needed to deal with it. It wouldn’t leave if he pretended it wasn’t there.
  • Others could see he had a problem, so Paul shared openly.
  • It had a purpose. He knew why he had his thorn and determined to learn from it.
From my painful encounter, I learned a valuable lesson. Wear shoes when you walk on the lawn.
But I also saw the need to watch for thorns in my spiritual life. They may be tiny problems; but they hurt. They cause me to limp. God allows them for a purpose. I need to recognize them and ask God what to do with them.
Isn't the same also true of our writing? Are there any writers out there who haven't experienced the pain of rejection? It may be a book, rejected at the last stage with the publisher. OUCH! Or it may be, as I've just had, a tiny 250 word devotion rejected by a publisher that usually takes all my work. Ouchee. It still hurts. But let's learn from Paul.
  • It's painful. Don't ignore it. Figure out what may have prevented its acceptance.
  • Deal with it. Don't file it away and forget about it. Work on it, then submit it to another market.
  • Others are watching you as a writer. It's good to share your rejections with other writers who will understand. In fact, it will encourage them. They're not the only ones that get rejections. Their reaction will also encourage you.
  • It has a purpose. What can you learn from this experience? (And no, it's not that you can't write!)
So next time you get a rejection—praise the Lord for it. 
  • It proves you are a writer. 
  • It proves you are an active writer. 
  • And it proves you have the stamina to keep at it. 
So, here goes with my rejected devotion. Off to another market. Actually, let's be honest. Here goes with both rejected devotions.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the thorns you allow in our lives. Help us to learn from them. Amen

SHIRLEY M. CORDER lives in South Africa with her husband, a hyperactive budgie called Sparky, and an ever expanding family of tropical fish. Her book, Rise and Soar above the Cancer Valley is due for release in the USA in 2012, and she is contributing author to nine books to date. Hundreds of her inspirational and life-enrichment articles have been published internationally. You can contact Shirley through her writing website, her Rise and Soar cancer site, or follow her on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating spiritual lesson, Shirley. And I loved those pics. But the thorn tree made me wince. It looked exactly like the sort of crown Jesus had thrust on Him. Thanks for the reminder of acceptance of our rejections, the dear Lord suffered the ultimate rejection.