I love tomatoes! Scratch that. I thought I loved tomatoes until I ate my first homegrown tomato of the season. Now I have to say, I love real tomatos. For the last few years, I've been growing my own tomatoes. If you have never grown your own tomatoes - oh my goodness I'd have to say you've never really tasted a tomato the way God made them.
Earlier this summer I harvested my first tomato of the season and as I stood in the kitchen slicing into its red, plump goodness my taste buds were dancing. They knew what was coming. When I popped that wedge into my mouth it was like natures candy. It was wonderfully sweet and so full of flavor! The flavor matched the aroma I smelled as a little girl when the canning factory was stewing tomatoes. I was astounded at the flavor. As I ate the tomato I stood at the kitchen sink moaning out loud until it was gone. I was like a kid who was eating chocolate for the first time.
That night I prepared a salad for myself for dinner. I did not have any of the REAL tomato's left so I cut up a tomato I had purchased at the grocery store. When I popped a wedge in my mouth, it fell flat. I grimaced. Where was the flavor? Where was the sweet candy goodness? There was no comparison between the two. I realized I had just eaten a fake tomato!
That is when the correlation of truth bloomed on the vine. From October to June of each year...the tomato's I eat are fake. But as the months click by I forget how fake they are and once again in my mind they become real tomatoes again. How quickly I forget the perfection of a real tomato. Tomato's the way God intended them with the heady smell of the vine and the sweetness of the meat of the tomato. And how quickly I am willing to accept an imitation for real. It made me ponder as I stood there at the kitchen sink...how many other things has life handed me that are imitations of what God intended?
As we go through life we begin to yearn for joy and happiness. The world, like a grocery store, offers an entire joy- “producing section” from which we can choose. Step right up folks and try this red, plump tomato! Manufactured just for you...um I mean, GROWN just for you!
We are wooed and seduced by what the world has manufactured and tagged as “joy producing” that we bite into the lie. Careers, prestige, money, vacations, expensive cars, clothes, hobbies, kids, expensive weddings, re-creating our bodies, marriage, on and on and on the selection goes. And for some reason...after a while, the “joy” dissipates and we find ourselves back in the joy “produce section” trying to decide on our next selection. It all somehow falls flat and tasteless as we swallow lie after lie.
We don't realize all the goodness, all the vitamins, all that was intended to make our existence on planet earth teeming with life and reproducing life, the very marrow to life has been sucked out of us by imposters or “things posing as life”! We walk around trying to be satisfied living a God-less life which in turn creates a flavorless, joy-less life.
Stormy seasons come into our lives uninvited. We hate them and rightly so. But with God as our traveling companion he desires to offer us respite along the journey. The kind of respite that - as we travel through that desert, through that need, through that nothingness... God presents us with real, genuine, authentic joy inspiring sustenance. It's when we read his word; when we spend time thanking him and praising him or when we spend time near him. When we trust him in spite of what is happening all around us.
Then and only then - even though our worlds are falling apart, loved ones die, money disappears or disaster strikes we can experience real joy and real satisfaction in spite of it all, because of God. In essence, it is GOD who offers us the real tomato...not the imitations.
Where in your life have you settled for imitations of love and joy rather than the real deal from God?
Dear Lord, I ask that you would open our eyes as we examine our lives. Where have we been tricked into accepting fake tomatoes as good... allowing the enemy to make us fall in love with that which is not soul satisfying? Create in us a hunger for only what is authentic and a great distaste for what is not genuine. For what is not organically YOU! Show us oh Lord where we've settled for less than what you created for us in relationships, in life and in YOU. Lord, may we have hearts who CRAVE the REAL you and may we settle for nothing less than what you created us to have. In Jesus powerful name, Amen!