Today as I backed our van out of the driveway and onto the street where we live, I noticed a plump, red tomato.
One lonely tomato . . . just sitting there . . . strategically placed in the middle of the road.
“Boys, who put that tomato there?” I asked.
No one answered.
“Boys?” I repeated
After a moment of silence, my eleven year old piped up, “At least we’re not throwing acorns in the road again!”
Ah, yes . . . acorns.
It’s been three years now since our boys got in trouble for throwing acorns in the road in front of our house. Imagine my surprise on that beautiful autumn day when I looked out of our dining room window only to see a police car stopping in front of our house. Imagine my fear as I noticed an officer slowly opening the car door and stepping out, walking in the direction of our yard with an expression on his face that communicated that this was not to be a friendly visit.
My heart racing, I had quickly left the house and met him in the front yard.
“Are you responsible for these kids, maam?” the officer had asked.
Looking at my boys, I tried to figure out what they could possibly have been doing that would cause a police officer to stop. None of them would look me in the eyes.
“Yes,” I said slowly, “Is everything all right?”
“They were throwing acorns at the cars that were driving by,” the officer explained, “That’s not a good idea. It could scare the drivers and cause an accident.”
“Thank you, sir,” I responded, the anger boiling up inside of me, “I’ll make sure it never happens again.”
Throwing acorns at cars?!? Whatever could have possessed them to do such a thing?
After the officer left, I immediately lashed out at my boys.
“What were you thinking?” I yelled, “How could you throw acorns at cars? You know better than that! Someone could have gotten hurt! What was going through your mind?”
I was livid, and my boys knew it.
Finally, one of the boys spoke up. “We weren’t throwing acorns at the cars, mom,” he said, the tears streaming down his face, “We were tossing them out on the street before the cars came. We just wanted to see if the cars would be able to break the acorns open.”
Do you ever feel like those acorns, tossed out in traffic, waiting for the weight of a car to break you?
I think Job may have felt that way. He was a godly man, doing all he could to serve God and put him first. Concerned about everyone around him, Job even regularly offered prayers on behalf of his own family members. If anyone deserved God’s favor, it was him.
And Job did receive God’s favor. So much so, that Satan accused Job of only being godly because He had the blessings of God in the first place.
“Put pressure on him,” Satan had said, “I bet he’ll crack.”
And so the pressure came. Crops were destroyed, animals killed, children died . . . in one day everything that Job held dear was ripped away from him. Later his very health was threatened, leaving him in a horrible position, suffering endlessly . . . even his wife thought he would be better off dead!
But Job did not crack. When the world around him fell apart, he stayed true to His Heavenly Father. Nothing could crush him. Nothing could tear him apart.
It took a moment for my son’s words to sink in.
And then I felt even worse.
I wanted to shout out to the police officer, “Hey, come back! They weren’t being bad! They were just curious!” But he was gone.
I wanted to shout out to the people in the cars that had passed, “I know it looked like they were throwing the acorns at you, but they really weren’t! They were just curious!” But the cars were gone.
Instead, I looked at the boys and said, “I understand you were only curious, but you should probably avoid throwing acorns out in the street from now on.”
And then I couldn’t help but add, “Were you able to get any of the acorns to crack?”
“No,” the boys replied, ” we couldn’t get any to crack.”
How are you when the pressure is on? How do you respond when the circumstances of life threaten to break you, when the enemy of your soul tries to destroy you? Are you like those acorns, standing firm in the midst of persecution?
Or are you like that poor, lonely red tomato . . .
I don’t know when the tomato met its end. All I know is that by the time we returned today, the tomato was a gooey, squishy mess in the middle of the road, exactly as my boys were hoping when they placed it there.
If you want to survive the stresses of life, you need to have a shell like an acorn, not skin like a tomato.
And that shell is found in Jesus Christ.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NASB)
This post is similar to one found in my book Banana Bread & Mismatched Socks: 100 Devotional Thoughts From My Every Day Life.