© 2017 Bill Murphy

This subject is a writing prompt of the Little Egypt Writer’s Society of Southern Illinois.

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him … but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6

Years before I discovered this scripture, I had a somewhat similar experience, although on a much smaller scale. That childhood event had a profound effect on me, a true ‘corner stone’ experience which has stayed with me all these years.

I was given words that prompt hope and encouragement: Tomorrow will be better.

ThistleI was in grade school at the time, 2nd or 3rd grade. Our family was on day trip to visit relatives. While driving there, I noticed thistles growing by the road.

That week in school, a page in our Fun With Dick and Jane had featured a thistle.  I hollered for Dad to stop. I wanted a thistle to take to class.  Mom and Dad were big on education, and here was a learning prompt.

Dad stopped the car. As I bounded from the vehicle in hot pursuit of my prize, Dad screamed at me to STOP! He understood that thistles are plant-porcupines! I didn’t stop.

I grabbed hold of that thistle with both hands and yanked. Woah! Needless to say, I quickly released the prickly monster. Too late. Both hands were filled with hundreds of tiny needles.

Yes, many of those painful barbs were removed.  But embedded deeply, many remained to torment me. Back home later that day,  I paced in pain and regret.

I remember my Eureka-Moment well. I was standing in my grandmother’s front yard next door, looking at my poor wounded hands. Oh how they hurt.  And then, from somewhere far beyond my young understanding, the though filled my heart. Tomorrow will be better! This day of torment will pass! You will return to joy and happiness.

Did I actually encourage myself? No! I was far too wrapped up in my own little world of painful thistle needles and semi-useless hands to be of much use to myself. Those thoughts of encouragement and hope came from far above and beyond my youth. They were a grand and glorious gift from God!

They were a gift which I still hold dear – and treasure today!




© 2017 Bill MurphySprouts

Nature will teach us, even preach to us, if only we’ll listen. Nature demonstrated a valuable lesson to me just the other day.

Recently we’ve had a very old and very large oak tree removed. It was in the early stages of death. The thing was so huge, so wide spread,  it was presenting a danger to our home – and the neighbors. It came down.

The problem was, the trunk was so great that it was next to impossible to simply haul it off in one piece. Instead, it was sawed into pieces, many of which still lay in the back yard. As I was mowing and weed-eating, I was amazed to see fresh, bright green GROWTH sprouting from not one, but several chunks of severed tree trunk! It was as if the old tree, now only in parts and pieces, was refusing to die! Instead, it was proclaiming that this is not the end!

How often have we come to a place in life when people, or life itself, takes a saw to us – chopping us up like just so much firewood – and tossing us aside to rot. Hear the anguish in the voice of the psalmist –

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends –  those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead;  I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. Psalm 31: 9-13 (NIV)

Take heart. Lift up your eyes. Learn a life-lesson from nature. Life – and those around you who buffet your life – may have made you stagger – and may have made you fall. Yes, you may be ‘down,’ but you do NOT have to be OUT! Those amazing, tender branches of new growth, were NOT connected to the ground – where they should be finding nourishment and water. No – they were growing from PIECES of the former tree, now cast onto the ground as just so much debris!

Take heart my friend. And take notice that the above scripture from Psalms does not end in despair! For the following verse, verse 14 says: “But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.”

He said – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV.

Way to GROW my friend!