Apples, Tomatoes, and the Curse of God

fruitYou’ve probably heard the story.  It’s the one about Adam, Eve, and the tree of knowledge, and it took place in the Garden of Eden.  In an act of disobedience, Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, and they were banned from and booted out of the Garden.

The myth of that Eden experience is that Adam and Eve ate an apple, but the Bible doesn’t specifically name what it was that they ate.  I disputed the apple assertion earlier this year after I had purchased a tomato.  It had such a deep red and luscious appeal that promised a taste bud-tingling-experience.  I took it home, sliced it, and added it to a sandwich.

After I took one bite of this fine-looking tomato, I drew a deep theological conclusion.  When God cursed the Garden, He must have also cursed a certain variety of tomato.  I’ll call it the supermarket variety because they all have one dominant and pervasive feature:  They are tasteless.  There is no flavor to savor.

The dilemma of tasteless tomatoes is explained in part by author Mark Schatzker in The Dorito Effect.  According to Schatzker, for the past 70 years commercial horticulturists have been focused on yield, pest resistance and appearance at the expense of flavor.

While store-bought tomatoes are no longer tasty, manufactured flavor has been added to Doritos and your munchies, so you’ll crave more.  Schatzker says: “Synthetic-flavor technology makes bland ingredients attractive without supplying the myriad benefits of the real thing. The twin forces of flavor dilution and fake ­flavor have short-circuited the biological basis for mutable appetite . . . Our bodies learn to draw connections between flavors and the physiological responses they signal . . . We can seek out and find what we need, nutritionally, and stop eating once we get it”

Schatzker seems to suggest that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.  I would add that perhaps we shouldn’t try to improve on the design of the Master Designer.

Psalm 84:11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

The Esau Syndrome

happy-treeWhile visiting with a neighbor, I was asked:  “Do you know anything about trees?” Before I could reply in the negative, he pointed to a tree that was losing its bark.  I suggested that he call an arborist or someone skilled in dendrochronology.

An arborist is someone who is trained to plant and cultivate trees, and dendrochronology studies tree rings to determine the dates and chronological order of past events.  By studying the rings of a tree, a person can identify the years that were dry spells and distinguish them from the wet seasons.

It’s not the rings of a person’s life that reveals his wet and dry seasons, but it’s the scars and the wrinkles.  Naomi is a woman who experienced both the wet and dry seasons.

As a young woman, she left Bethlehem with her husband and two sons.  Even though Moab was off-limits to Jews, she and her family settled there.  While living in the forbidden land of Moab, Naomi lost her husband, both sons, her wealth, and her beauty.

The dry years in Moab left their marks on Naomi.  By the time she returned to her homeland, her youthful skin had become wrinkled and she had been scarred by spiritual neglect.  When her old friends and neighbors saw her they asked:  “Is this Naomi?”

She replied:  “Don’t call me Naomi.  Call me Mara: for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.”

Because her life experiences had changed her, Naomi didn’t believe she was worthy of a name that means “pleasant, winsome, or agreeable.”   She believed the name Mara or “bitter” was more appropriate.

Naomi and her husband had made the same mistake that Esau made many years earlier.  Due to a lack of spiritual insight, he had traded his birthright to satisfy his short-term appetite:

“Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.”

What do the rings of your life say about you?  When you look into the mirror of God’s Word, what do you see?  Do you see the weeds of discontent or do you see the fruit of love, joy, and cheerfulness?

29 More Days

2010_01_21_blog_seed_catalogs-008With the foul weather, frigid temperatures, and bone-chilling wind, it’s hard to believe that the first day of Spring is about a month way.  Proof of this is the frequent appearance of seed catalogues in my daily mail.

Bright red roses and other fragrant flowers will soon be in full blossom.  As the buds of these plant begin to form, gardeners will sniff about them in anticipation of their pleasing aroma.

The scent of a flowering plant is designed to attract insects for the purpose of pollination.  In 1953 chemists could only recognize 20 of the chemicals in a rose’s fragrant bouquet, but now they can identify 1,700 different scent compounds.

The sweet fragrance of flowers reminds me of a couple of verses in the Bible:

  • In Revelation 5:8, John speaks of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
  • In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul encourages us to “be imitators of God, as beloved children, and to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

I’ll leave you with a question to consider:  Are you know for raising a stink or for a life that is “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God?”