From Jim O'Brien
March 16, 2018

Hi Friend,

Barnacles and Suckers

This is a special time of the year. At least 3,500 years ago God chose leavening as a symbol for sin and told the Israel of old to live for one week without it. Every person would benefit by setting aside time to examine himself to look for sin. Some things can't be seen until we focus on them. There is "stuff" that accumulates in a person's life and takes on a life of its own. It grows to become the proverbial 'elephant in the living room' to which we are blind.

At our house the cleaning process includes throwing away out-of-date foods. Every jar is checked for dates and a large black industrial strength garbage bag is filled with half used jars and cans. At other times of the year these jars are given a cursory glance but during Unleavened Bread we look for the offending date on the bottom of the container. Every so often Donna announces "I can't believe we don't come down with ptomaine poisoning. If it wasn't for the Days of Unleavened Bread we would never get rid of this stuff." This is often followed by a look that says "You, who would eat anything, wouldn't have made it to your fortieth birthday if I didn't throw this poison away." She may be right.

Physical possessions cling to us like barnacles on a ship's hull. They won't leave without a fight. My office has enough paper flowing through it to fill the city dump. A path has been worn from the mailbox to the garbage can to keep junk mail from overrunning the house. And clothes threaten to overflow the closet. "That's my varsity letterman jacket!" I shrieked as it landed in the garbage bag. "You know," said Donna with one raised eyebrow, "you got that in High School at the same time Elvis Presley was performing on the Ed Sullivan Show."

It is the very act of getting rid of items we want to keep that makes us more productive. At Passover we read John 15:2, "...every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." Those little extraneous leaves that grow on the side of plants and trees are called suckers. A good gardener makes the rounds each Spring and clips them off. Suckers get their name because they sap the nutrients out of the plant. They stunt the good growth.

Man has a way of letting suckers take the productive time out of life leaving us with half completed tasks that lead to faded dreams.

Jesus gave a parable about a fig tree that did not produce fruit for three years. "Cut it down;" the owner commanded, "why does it 'waste' the ground?" (Luke 13:7 NKV)

So it is with things we allow into our life that don't produce. They render us ineffective and anemic. Only when we rid ourselves of these useless drains on energy does growth occur in the important areas of life. Treat them as Jesus treated the money-changers. The temple was too important to allow suckers to sap away the life.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien