God's Plans and the Cocklebur Seed

God's Plans and the Cocklebur Seed

"For everything there is a season, and a time every matter under heaven."—Eccl. 3:1

When I was a boy, how I hated the cocklebur! And with good reason, for it caused me much misery.

What is the cocklebur? It's an oval-shaped seed pod slightly more than a half inch long with scores of curving, sharp, needlelike burry hairs. Naturally, it's made that way so it will catch on passing animals (and humans) in the fall and be carried here, there, and yonder for the next year. So does Nature provide for her own.

A favorite riding place is a cow's tail. And when about a hundred or so cockleburs have managed to secure this choice spot, the cow's tail becomes a stiff, spiny club. That's why I hated the cocklebur.

For I milked four cows each morning and evening. And when they switched their tails round my bare neck, the effect was far from pleasant. How I dreaded the cocklebur season!

But just as our enemies often teach us more than our friends, so do the unpleasant, distasteful items of life give us food for thought. For the cocklebur shows how marvelously God can make his plans work despite adverse conditions.

Open the cocklebur and you find two seeds. Why two? We don't know, but we do know these two seeds are very different although they may look exactly alike. They have different sprouting schedules. One will sprout the year after it develops. The other will wait a year and sprout the second season. Why this arrangement?

Very simple. Suppose that the first sprouting season is a bad one. The bur is still tangled up in some cow's tail, or in some boy's overcoat, or the weather is too dry, or the bur gets caught too high on the grass to put its roots into the ground.

Does this mean that there will be no cocklebur plant from that seed pod? No, for the second seed still has a chance. Perhaps next year the bur will be out of the cow's tail, out of the boy's overcoat, the weather will be just right, and the bur falls down from the tall grass into nice moist soil.

Then that second seed saves the day by growing into a new cocklebur plant to make new sticky burs for cows' tails and for naughty boys to rub into girls' long hair, as they used to when I was a boy.

What a marvelous design God has for even this lowly plant!

And if he thinks so much of its welfare, how much more does he consider us, his own beloved children.

He gives us not just two chances, but many, many, many chances. He forgives us when we do wrong as often as we're sorry for our sins and ask his forgiveness.

Each day we start off with a clean slate, with minds washed fresh by sleep. Each Sunday in church we begin the week right with worship of him.

Also, the cocklebur teaches us, especially when we're young, not to give up when our aims and ambitions don't come true as we want them to. Perhaps you've already discovered that every boy and girl is different from every other boy and girl. One boy may throw a football well at ten years. Another may not do so well until he's twelve. One child learns to read well at five. Another, at six or seven.

One girl may enjoy dancing in the eighth grade. Another may not until she's in the tenth.

Don't be discouraged if you can't do certain things as well as others your age. Perhaps they can't do certain other things as well as you're doing them now. Certainly, we should all try to correct our weak points, but many young people grow discouraged too quickly because they feel inferior.

Suppose the second-year cocklebur seed saw its brother sprout­ing and said, "I'm no good. Look at my brother grow. What's wrong with me?" Common sense would say: "You silly thing, you're not made to sprout now. Next year your time comes."

Likewise, God made us human being different.

Don't feel that you're inferior if your friends seem ahead of in certain ways. Do your best and your time will come.

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