Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Butterflies, rattlesnakes, and Jesus
I was out taking photos of Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. This area in the pine woods was sunny without much shade. The trees weren’t full at the top, letting in a great deal of sunlight. Gulf Fritillary butterflies lay eggs on passionvine in the sun and the area was full of passionvine and blackberry briers.
Now I see several poisonous snakes every year as I wander through the fields and woods taking photos of butterflies, caterpillars, plants, and more …
… but this one, it was a rattlesnake. It was BIG! Well, at least it sure seemed big. Now that I’m not toe to fang with it, I can say that although it was a chunky one, it was only about three feet long.
I wondered as I backed slowly away from this particular rattlesnake; what would happen if I died while photographing butterflies in the woods and fields? Some places where I wander are a mile from a gate; dirt roads without houses in the area. I sometimes wander in and out of brush and briars for hours on end (and I will never admit to being lost but it does take me an hour every now and then to find my bearings). Suppose something did happen to me and I wasn’t able to get out in time?
Immediately the thought came to me, I know what people would say; 1) “I knew she shouldn’t be out there alone” and 2) “She died doing what she loved to do”.
I was thinking about Jesus and how he died. He died doing what he loved to do, so to speak. He wasn't enthuastic about dying on the cross, that isn't what I mean. He prayed that if the Father was willing, that the Father would "take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done". No, dying on a cross was not his ideal way to spend the last day of his last week.
The Pharisees were very judgmental, looking down upon him because he spent time with ‘sinners’. He spent time with his closest friends, of course, but that wasn’t his primary purpose here on earth. Spending time with ‘sinners’? Yes, this was what Jesus did – spend his time with those who needed him. Sadly, not all ‘sinners’ accepted his words. He was not able to save them all but he did save many.
He spent much of his time doing the same thing he was doing when he died.
I thought of how Jesus died. He died as he lived, among ‘sinners’. Literally, he died between ‘sinners’; two criminals. And just as earlier, when his feet were on the ground for 33 1/2 years, he wasn’t able to save both; but he did save one of the criminals in his last hours.
Too many people blame themselves for not reaching the hearts (for God) of every person they love or care about. Their family, friends, children, parents, siblings, spouse, co-workers; they cannot turn their friends and family to accept the gift of salvation. They become depressed and hold themselves personally responsible.
But Jesus himself didn’t reach everyone’s heart. If Jesus couldn’t, how can we expect ourselves to do so?
We need to simply do the best we can, be joyful, and let go of self-blame. Unjustified self-blame is a tool of Satan. How he loves to weigh us down with this burden so that we can’t do near as much for God as we’d like. If we’re bogged down in unjustified self-blame, how can we shine and reach out with joy and love?
Now I’m not ready to die from a rattlesnake bite out a mile from anywhere and if it's God will, I'd rather not die that way at all.
But I am ready to learn from Jesus; don’t blame myself for not helping everyone. But I don't need to use that as an excuse not to try to help others either!
I need only to do my best and let God take care of all the rest.
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."[e] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
38There was a written notice above him, which read:|sc THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[f]"
43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."