At the end of October my spindly tomato plants gasped their last breath. The tomatoes’ cracked skins, rot and dark spots told of the ravages from too much rain, cooler temperatures and lessening sunlight.
Although they’d be rejects at any produce market, I picked what I could and brought my battered harvest inside. Since they didn’t look appealing to slice and eat, I decided to make sauce.
I concocted a simple recipe, added the chopped tomatoes, and left the sauce to simmer for a long time. When the time seemed right, I nervously took a taste.
I was amazed! The sauce was awesome—nuanced and sweet and delicious! It shouted, “Blasphemer!” to the jarred sauce in my pantry. I marveled at how a bowl of ugly, half-rotting tomatoes became something so magnificent.
Sometimes I feel like one of those late season tomatoes–overwhelmed by imperfections, cracks and flaws. I feel battered by bad habits, rejection, insecurities and the lies of the enemy. Certainly God, you’d rather choose someone more perfect and appealing.
But I know in my heart this isn’t the way God sees me or any of His children.
During His ministry, Jesus’ went out of His way to find the “bad fruit”—like Samaritans, prostitutes, adulterers, lepers and tax collectors. Those who’d been stamped “unacceptable” by society, He gathered them close to forgive, teach, heal and love. It was to the most flawed and the most unlikely that Jesus revealed His Truth and amazing grace.
When the grade A fruit—the Pharisees—asked Jesus why he wasted His time with the rejects He answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
My translation says: “I have not come to pick the reddest and most perfect fruit; I’ve come to gather the bruised, rotting and broken to make something glorious with them.”
Jesus says this to me and He says it to you.
Maybe you feel like you’re less than perfect. That you’re more bad fruit than good. That you belong in the compost pile. Know that this is where Jesus does His greatest work. His grace redeems our spots, cracks and rot. His strength makes our weakness perfect.
Where we see ugliness, God sees beauty. Where we see failure, He sees possibility. Where we see flaws, He sees perfection.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV)
Just as a pot of half-rotting tomatoes simmered over a flame was transformed into magnificent sauce, our broken, sin-filled lives refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit are transformed into glorious new creations.
That is Awesome Sauce!