Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Not All It Appears To Be
No doubt about it. Looks great and smells like a nicely ripened, ready-to-eat cantaloupe and the perfect finishing touch to a delicious meal.
My beloved and I each took a large bite, savoring the juicy texture. Yuck! What a surprise! Didn’t taste horrible, simply had no flavor, at all. So much for the inside being as good as the exterior seemed to be.
While there are considerable differences between a melon and a human being, we do have a few things in common with this humble fruit, beginning with any number of reasonable explanations for why it lacked flavor and was so bland.
The soil it was planted in…
Sometimes the soil you and I are planted in, from conception to birth and through our early years, is rocky, hard and rather unforgiving in harshness. Maybe one or both of our parents [and their parents] had areas of woundedness and sinfulness which spilled over into our families. For example, addiction issues often move from one generation to the next without meaningful intervention.
On the other hand, maybe your ‘soil’ seemed more like shifting sand. You could never really depend on the kind of security and consistency of mature, responsible parenting that provides for a safe growing environment.
Too much fertilizer or not enough…
Maybe the melon looked so great because the grower delivered heavy and frequent doses of compost or mulch. However, there is a point at which too much of a good thing can stifle or even smother the plant—or the person. Ever observed a child who is being indulged at the expense of the rest of the family? Or the grown-up who only seems to be satisfied or happy with the biggest, the best, or the newest, of whatever?
The melon plant—and you and I—need balance in our lives. Both the ‘too much or too little’ scenario can impact the authenticity of our Christian walk. Some folks seem to believe every waking moment is to be lived to the letter of the law, rite, or ritual, all of which leaves barely a breath of the day to savor or enjoy the delightful details of God’s presence: the singular snow flake, the bright-red berries of the holly bush, the smile of a spouse from across the room, the momentary phone call from a son, daughter, or friend.
At the same time, the Christian who neglects the essentials—knowledge of Scripture, time to pray and develop relationship with God, fellowship with like-minded souls—may eventually discover they have become stagnant or self-satisfied with the status-quo.
Water and warmth…
Melon plants need moisture and sunshine to thrive. Obviously, so do people. In many instances, there will be occasions when both of us are dependent on the provision of others to supply the need.
The farmer who depends on his crops as a means to make a living knows that without rain and warm temperatures, his plants will die. Whether the operation is a large agribusiness or a smaller one of a few acres, there will be times when he needs to take action and provide what is lacking in natural resources, although interestingly enough, there are limitations to what he can actually reproduce or replicate. Irrigation, maybe. Synthetic coverings for protection from frost, maybe. The solution for some is to build rows of greenhouses, but most of us recognize the significant flavor differences between the fruit produced in the fields and outdoors, and those grown in plastic enclosures. It just isn’t the same, period.
The Christian who desires to be flavorful—or light and salt as Jesus would describe us—must rely fully on our great and loving God for all that we need. Our human families, friends, and communities can certainly provide a drink of water or embrace us in warm and loving arms, gestures we appreciate, in good times and in bad. However, if we fail to recognize God as the first and best source and resource of all that we need and desire, we may find ourselves becoming bitter or resentful toward our human companions for not measuring up to our wants or expectations.
Not a total waste…
We did our best to eat some of the melon before setting aside the remainder to be composted—a more positive outcome when it was all said and done. When it eventually decomposed, it likely contributed to producing better soil—for any other plant which may follow.
And so, too, with us. God never allows the tiniest cell of our being—our thoughts, emotions, feelings or actions—to go to waste. If we allow Him to work in and through us, He can accomplish wonders on the inside, in our hearts and souls. God longs for us to be more than ‘pretty Christians’—He wants us to have substance, character, living Spirit-led lives through which He can nourish and encourage others.
From God’s perspective, we are to focus on much more than looking good. We have been given this life to be all that He has created us to be—even if that means occasionally being decomposed in order to grow into new life.
How do I feel about the ground I was planted in?
Do I suffer from too much of a good thing? Not enough?
Who do I turn to for provision and sustenance?
What might ‘being decomposed’ look like in my life?