This past weekend, I was walking along my fence row looking at just how quickly things had grown during the few weeks of spring and I noticed a new addition to our yard. Among the fence there were now some blackberry bushes winding their way toward the sky. Tiny little red berries were already poking through the green leaves and I have to admit that while I don't like briars in my yard, I was delighted to see those berries! My mind remembered blackberry cobbler from my youth and my mouth watered a little. Of course, there were no where near enough berries to make a cobbler, as if I'd have known how to make one if there had been, but that didn't change the fact that I had blackberries!
I gingerly reached among the briars and picked the few ripe berries and took them inside to show my husband. I offered to share the three berries I had and silently reminded myself to go back and check the next day for more. Sure enough, a couple of days later, there were more berries! I picked them, this time almost a handful, and took them inside. My husband sweetly put them into a container for me. That's where the problem came in. Once they went into that container, I forgot about them. I think I planned to eat them "later" when I could "prepare them" into something special but never really thought about them again. Soon I would make an interesting discovery. Blackberries, like manna, don't last more than a day or so.
Yesterday I was in the yard again and picked a LOT of berries this time (the blessings were increasing!) I took my treasure inside to add it to the other berries I had picked, not realizing how many days had passed. Instead of the sweet black berries I had collected, I discovered a furry white mass. They were spoiled, no good for anything.
Well, I thought. That's a lesson learned. Can't just hold on to them indefinitely. I placed the new batch on a paper towel on the counter and determined I wouldn't let that happen again.
A friend came over and we ate a couple of the berries as we talked, but not really that many. The rest waited on the counter for a hungry soul to delight in them. This morning they are still on that paper towel on the counter. They don't look quite as sweet today...in fact, they look like they are shriveling up a bit. Blackberries, like manna, don't last more than a day or so.
The conversation I'd had with my friend came to mind. Frustration of gifts seemingly unused in our lives simply because we do not know quite how to make those big dreams come true. We have dreams of writing books and doing great things (sort of like that blackberry cobbler) but no idea how to make those dreams come true. That's when it hit me. Instead of waiting and dreaming, maybe we just need to share the fruit that is in front of us, no matter how small the amount seems to be. Holding on to the little bits until "later" doesn't work. It's like trying to store up the manna. With blackberries and manna and gifts, it's pretty much a "use it or lose it" kind of proposition.
Some who are reading this are thinking of things in their lives that they have "put off till later" simply because they don't have time to think about it right now. Some have gifts in their lives that they are waiting to use until they have all the berries and the recipe for the cobbler - but honestly they aren't doing anything about that right now. Some are just staring that the few berries in the palm of their hand and wondering what to do with these gifts that seem so small and so few. Here's an idea - share them. Give them away - today. They won't last until you find the perfect time - they are for today.
Blackberries and manna and the gifts of God are to be used daily and shared with those around you, not stored up and then, honestly, forgotten.
Today I pray that you will enjoy finding the blackberries that seem to have appeared from nowhere and that you will delight in sharing them with others. God's gifts IN us aren't FOR us...they are meant to be shared.
The Message (MSG)
4-5 God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration. I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have gathered, it will turn out to be twice as much as their daily ration.”
John 6:27 (MSG)
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”