O Lord, keep Your Church in Your perpetual mercy; and because without You we cannot but fall, preserve us from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who live and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
One day, after a family outing to pick blackberries in late-summer Missouri heat we emerged from the bramble to take stock of the fruit of our efforts. It was sad. The berries had been good a few days earlier, but now the hot sun, birds, and other pests meant we found very little. We had only a few forlorn berries rolling around in the bottom of our containers. We were hot, scratched, and miserable. As we climbed back into the car, my grandfather, remarked, “Well, at least we had the fun of it.” At this point, the rest of us, who had been working ourselves into something of a grump, looked at one another and burst out laughing. Grandpa always had a wicked and dry sense of humor.
We pray in this prayer that God would lead us to all things profitable to our salvation. I for one would really like to fly to heaven first class. I would like to enjoy life and have nice things. I would avoid the blackberry brambles of life and just enjoy the berry pie. Keep me from the thorns and heat, O Lord! But this last part of the prayer, where we pray that God would lead us to those things which are profitable to our salvation has to give us occasion to pause and reconsider.
That old sinner who was dealt a mortal blow in my baptism is still lurking in me. He would likely use that comfort, ease, and success that I desire to distract me from my Lord and lead me astray. I might be comfortably astray, but I would be astray, vulnerable, and ultimately in a great deal of hurt. So, Jesus leads me into the brambles of life. It is not always fun or seemingly fruitful. But at least we have what He means for it to be, profitable to my salvation. It is a good thing, when life gets a little prickly and painful to remember that your Good Shepherd is leading you to all things profitably to your salvation. It might not be pleasant or even safe, but he knows what he is doing.