“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7
I am NOT a fan of Iowa winters. The cold is bad enough, but days without sunshine make me sad. The color of the world seems to fade to nothing but grayness. My skin dries out and gets itchy and my fingers crack and make me just plain crabby.
The last straw is trying to push a grocery cart through the snow and slush of the parking lot! Arrgghh!
For many winters, Tom and I were blessed to escape the dreary, frigid weather and mountains of snow in the Midwest for the balmy palm trees and ocean breezes of Florida. On a boat in the blue waters of the Atlantic I discovered I was made for shorts and flip flops! Far better than mittens and snow boots.
Even grocery shopping was a more pleasant experience–the parking lot at Publix was never aggravating.
It might sound strange, but grocery stores in Florida, as well as Farmer’s Markets, were some of my favorite places. The variety of fruits and veggies and exotic, colorful flowers–orange and purple Bird of Paradise, scarlet Bromeliads and yellow and pink orchids–make me pause at the wonder of our Lord’s creativity and artistic talent.
One of my favorite treats from the markets are red, ripe strawberries. They are full of flavor and so juicy I need a napkin to wipe my face! The strawberries I buy in the winter in Iowa look pretty–big and red with perfect green tops–but when I bite into them, they are disappointingly tasteless and dry.
I wonder if this is how Jesus sees my life sometimes?
Andy Stanley has a series called “Christian”. He talks about how few times this word is used in the Bible-only three or four. Jesus doesn’t ask us to be “Christians”, he asks us the be His disciples. “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you shall love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Andy Stanley teaches that the word “Christian” has a very broad definition. “Disciple” is very narrow with specific expectations. Many people identify themselves as Christian. Far fewer consider ourselves true disciples or live by the qualifications of discipleship.
Too many times when I examine my life, I look good on the outside. I’m mostly kind and friendly. I wear my cross necklace. I go to church and Bible study and serve others.
But what is Jesus seeing in my heart? The selfishness? The pride? The jealously and self-righteousness? Am I really loving everyone I encounter as Jesus does?
I’m afraid that I am like the strawberries that are bright red and pretty on the outside but dry and flavorless on the inside, just like those that deceive and disappoint in northern supermarkets in the winter.
Am I living too often as just a Christian? Or am I striving through the Holy Spirit to be a true disciple?
None of us can do this on our own, nor does anyone achieve perfect status. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can “ripen” us on the inside. The world and its trappings can make us attractive on a superficial level but only a relationship with Jesus can give us rich fullness in our souls.
The first step in becoming more of a true disciple is recognizing how dry and empty we are inside no matter what our lives look like on the outside. Then we can ask the “Master Farmer” Holy Spirit to fill us with the Living Water so that our spirits might be full and rich for Jesus.
I want to be a rich, ripe, juicy strawberry inside for Jesus!
Jesus help me to be more like you every day. Send me your Holy Spirit to fill my heart and keep my eyes on you and our permanent home in heaven. Help me to become more and more a disciple of yours so that Your light shines in me and through me to everyone I encounter. In your name I pray. Amen.