My family eats a lot of fresh fruit. Year round, month by month. Not necessarily locally grown fresh fruit (obviously) but bowls on our kitchen counter and shelves in the refrigerator are regularly filled with 9-10 varieties of fresh fruit. Having purchased said fruit and having approached said bowls and shelves on a daily basis, I can attest to this truism: It is easy to identify, in a collection of anything, the “best” from the “worst.” Take a box of blueberries. It doesn’t require too much browsing time to determine which are plumpest and juiciest, and which are more shriveled, dry and wrinkled. The temptation, of course, is to eat the plump and juicy ones first. Who, after all, chooses to eat the mealiest of the bunch when there are better alternatives at hand? So it is in our family. The best of everything disappears first, while the “worst” are ignored, bypassed, forgotten. Yet even they serve a purpose. Their blemishes can be hidden when mixed into pancakes or smoothies. They are the perfect sources for my blueberry compote which serves as the basis of my homemade blueberry and toasted almond ice cream, or for Amy’s blueberry buckle – a family favorite. While the “first” are easily relished most, the “worst” also serve a tremendous purpose for our family’s welfare and fulfillment.
This month at Central Christian we are looking at scripture passages that deal with the theme of “harvest” and examining them for what we can learn from them about growing as believers toward spiritual maturity.
This week in worship we will focus on Deuteronomy 26 which encourages us to identify the “first fruits” from our harvest and bring them before the Lord. It is true that when we survey the field of our lives and all that has grown within it – all that we have encountered and experienced – it is easy to identify those things that bring us the most joy. Yet DT 26 reminds us how important it is to take time intentionally in order to give thanks to God for them. And not only for them, but for all that made those joys possible. For everything we receive and experience is a gift from God. And being intentional about practicing gratitude and thankfulness helps to cultivate truly grateful and thankful hearts.
And we will also take a look at Matthew 13, in which Jesus tells a story about weeds growing in a field alongside wheat. When servants want to eliminate the weeds, their master forbids it. As though there is some long-term benefit for the wheat to exist alongside the weeds. Or… that the presence of weeds serves some purpose to the health and welfare of the wheat. I believe the same can be said for the lives we lead. While it is easy to identify that “worst” experiences we have encountered, even they can be sources of our long-term health and growth as people of God. When we are able to look back on our lives and identify things that, at the time, we wanted desperately to avoid or eliminate, but which turned out to be things from which we learned and grew as God’s chosen, then we have seen first-hand the truth that the first and the worst are both presented for our benefit.