Part 1 – Crown of Thorns: Enduring Hardship

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Andrey Grinkevich – Unsplash

Let me tell you a story about a gift from Father God that released me from my attitude of bondage and set me creatively free. For a long time, I was very ambiguous about life. In fact, at times I didn’t care if I woke up in the morning. I felt that bad.

A series of life experiences had become burdens of futility. What I mean is that it didn’t seem to matter what I would do to buoy myself up; eventually, I would slip back down into a heavy ambiguity. The life experiences that burdened me were a childhood and youth of disruptions in my family-life so much so that I finally lost all sense of peace and safety. Then there were years of burdens from adult life that just simply wore me down. In the end, I was a borderline diabetic and carried an extra 110-pounds of body weight. The overall effect of these experiences was that my desire to grow out of this stuff was wearing down to nothing.

The vision of a solution came in quiet time with the Lord. In meditation in the Spirit, I saw huge thorns. I was surrounded by brambles as if I were in a thicket of them. At first, I interpreted them to be a presentation of my life of prickly challenges and pain. But by zooming back for a broader view, it became apparent that I was staring at a Crown of Thorns. This is the same device that the Roman soldiers used on the Christ to mock Him (Matt 27; Mark 15; John 19) as the “king of the Jews.”

I asked Father, “What’s this got to do with me?” Then I saw a tree with a vertical crotch of two great big limbs. I believe that it was an oak tree because of the bark and leaves I could see. On the left, the limb was gray and dead. On the right, the limb was alive and healthy.

Father said to me, “On the left, you can see your ambiguity toward life and death. On the right, you can see life itself. Choose.” This tree was actually a fork in the road of my life. I had a choice to make.

I looked and asked, “Why do I need to choose? Why can’t I just let things happen as they will? I’ll keep doing my work for however long I can, and if I don’t wake up one morning, then I’ll be free of life’s miseries.”

He showed me that, “The gray limb on the left is death. The green limb on the right is life. You cannot live in an imaginary gray area between the two. You either want death – and that is very likely why you don’t care if you live or die – or you want life. It’s one or the other and is not a mere coin toss. It’s one or the other. Secondly, to live with the presence of death lingering in your life will only bring death. It will kill any and all creative work and relationship that you attempt.”

For me to leave things in this vague state would completely block any work that I wanted to try and do. Death lingering over my shoulder dampened my attitude toward life and would effectively cut off anything that I thought I could do with my life. I hadn’t seen this before. This made sense, and it was as if this indecision diluted everything about living a worthwhile life.

I then realized that I needed to decide deliberately and not leave life and death to a mere celestial coin toss. Something welled up inside of me, maybe it was Father’s love, but I chose life. At that moment I sawed off the dead limb, choosing the whole-life trunk as my path.

At that moment, I suddenly understood the Crown of Thorns that Father had shown me earlier. This was my Crown of Thorns. This was Father’s gift to me to help remind me that life is always going to be peppered with troubles, large and small. The crown also told me that I am a prince of heaven. Lastly, I was reminded that my difficulties are not endured alone. Christ is present and offers to be my strength in the midst of them. For me it’s the knowledge that there is a way out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am not alone. I am loved and that is what sustains me.

I now wear my Crown of Thorns whenever I face a challenge, difficulties, or any kind of senseless misery. It’s often difficult, but with Father and my crown, I can make it through the challenges of my life if I will but choose to.

Lew Curtiss is a facilitator and artist with NW Ekklesia. To read more of his story click on the link here; http://nwekklesia.com/artists/lew-curtiss/

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