"Hey, sweetie!" I heard a familiar voice say. "It's Papa," he continued on the other end of the line.
"Listen, honey, I've got a bunch of tomatoes that need puttin' up today, and I don't have the time to fool with 'em cause I'm in the middle of cannin' pickles. Do you want 'em? Some of 'em are as big as soccer balls, and they've got plenty a'bad spots that need to be cut off. It's right many of 'em."
"Sure!" I replied.
And that was how I ended up with a bushel of tomatoes yesterday--a bushel of tomatoes that looked like this:
Last night and this morning, as I was cutting off the bad spots and setting aside the still-safe-to-eat parts, I thought about how these tomatoes painted a pretty interesting spiritual analogy.
The tomatoes, in their original state were full of bruises, oozes, splits, tears, and mold. All of these blemishes needed to be removed if the tomatoes were to be acceptable for me to use. Admittedly, some of the tomato sores were pretty vile, requiring me to maintain a pretty strong resolution in order to not throw up. (Yuck!)
But after their ugly parts were removed, the tomatoes were good for me to use.
Our lives in Christ are the same way. God has to, even after we are saved, remove the oozing sin spots, bruises, tears, splits, and mold in our lives. He has to cut them away from our hearts and minds if we are to be acceptable for His use.
I wonder how many times God has felt sick over something I've said or done or thought?
Whether it's because I've been lukewarm (Rev. 3:16) or disobedient to God's Word (1 John 3:4), God has had to cut away sin in my life.
Sometimes, it's just a bruise--a one-time thing that I messed up on.
Sometimes, it's a split or tear--something I've done before a few times or a sin I've not confessed.
The worst is when I let that tear become moldy or oozing or both--I let that sin continue to have a place in my heart and it becomes more vile and turns into a stronghold.
Have you ever seen an oozing tomato? I'm not trying to be gross, but when a tomato oozes, the gross part reaches other places on the tomato and everything around it--not just the original section of the tomato itself.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. When we continue in sin, when we don't confess our sin before God (1 John 1:9), it runs into other areas of our lives.
For example, if I'm continually not a submissive wife, then eventually my sin in this area (against God and Red Beard) is going to affect the way I counsel other women, the way I conduct myself in private and in public, the example I set, etc., etc.
Unconfessed sin always affects more areas than we realize. And with that unconfessed sin, our relationships--with God, our family, other believers, and non-believers alike--start to stink and rot.
We need to confess our sins.
Remember what happens next? The second half of that verse says... "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
As soon as we bring that sin before God, He cuts it away. And our lives, if we continue to live clean and holy before our righteous God, are available for Him to use.
Carry your bruises, oozes, splits, mold, and tears to the Great Physician!
P.S. If you want to read more about freezing tomatoes, check out this page.