The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name. - Exodus 15:3
My day began with checking Judy into an oncology clinic and ended in picking blackberries from a vicious bramble. Each visit to the oncology clinic reminds me of a field infirmary at the edge of a battle zone. Like war-torn and battle-weary soldiers they march in and find a place for infusion. Each week we see familiar faces. Many have the same style of scarves to cover the evidences of their conflict. Some come alone. Others have friends or loved ones around them. Their war is a fight for life. In a strange twist and with each infusion just the right amount of poison is given; poison to kill a million little unseen invaders, but not too much to kill their host. Today in the oncology clinic a victory was won, but the war was hell.
This afternoon I made my way over to the pasture in search of more blackberries. The siren song of blackberry pie was far too strong. I knew there were more plentiful and larger berries to be found; I just had to find them. It didn’t take long and I was in the thick of it; plentiful berries the size of a quarter, so ripe the fragrance was thick in the evening air. But each berry came at a price. The razored vines were like an alien force-field surrounding them. For me to intrude into their world was to invite their shredding barbs into my hands and legs. I left the brambles a victor, but not without bearing the scars and wounds. Today in the blackberry bramble a victory was won, but the war was hell.
An interesting thing happened this morning at the oncology clinic…I received a note from a friend far away. Recently suffering the effects of a stroke he was confessing his discouragement at his lack of progress. His mind is convinced he can do things his body wants no part of. He is a soldier, but much of the warfare happens in the theater of his mind. It took no time at all and when he found out where Judy and I were at he let us know of his prayers for Judy. Ever at the ready his own challenges quickly gave way to enlisting help to assist someone else on another front. Today in the solitude of a struggling friend another victory was won, but the war was hell.
These evidences of clear and present danger, though ominous and dire at present, have been put on notice. A day will come when malignancy will bow to the benign, and death will be swallowed up. The beautiful blackberry will willingly yield her delectable fruit and the body of my friend will lockstep to each internal command. It may be hard to see now, particularly in this bramble-filled life, but a new day has dawned. In the crimson-stained bleakness of a Roman gibbet and the screaming silence of an opened sepulcher the spoils of war have begun to be gathered. A man with a long-shriveled hand has been healed. A man possessed now put in his right mind. A garden lost to the desolation of weeds and vines will soon become a verdant storehouse of sweetest fare. The final Word has spoken. The eschatological ingathering has begun. Today, and for now, war is hell, but both all at once and bit-by-bit the war has been and is being won. Our God is a warrior and the spoils of war are his.