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Friday, January 16, 2015

Broccoli?

Holding out a huge stock of flowery, green stuff, my upstairs landlady said, “We just bought a flat of broccoli. I wanted to share it with you, because I’m not sure you have much chance to get to the grocery store during the week. Seems like it closes before you leave the hospital, right?”

“That’s about right for most days. I’m hoping that will change, now that the press to renew our license is finished.” I tried not to look at Susan’s outstretched arm; the vegetable balanced on her open palm.

“Good. Well, anyway,” she said pushing the veggie at me, “here’s the broccoli. Enjoy!”

I took it out of her hand, amazed at the weight of the heavy green bundle. “Uh, er, the thing is, Susan, I don’t really eat broccoli. It’s really nice of you to share it with me, but--” I held out my hand for her to relieve me of the broccoli.

“Nonsense. Have you ever tasted broccoli?”

“Not that I can recall. My mother never made it for us, so she probably knew that we wouldn’t like it.” Even I had to laugh at such a ridiculous excuse for returning her veggie offering.

“You’re kidding me, aren’t you? Your mother never gave it to you? Not once?” I shook my head. That’s all it took for Susan to launch into the benefits of the dark-green plant.

“Look, Susan, I know it’s probably good for me, but I haven’t even a clue how to cook it, you know,”

Susan scanned the countertop; then, opened the cupboard that housed the pots and pans. “Here. You just wash the broccoli under the tap. Put just about an inch of water in the pot. Add the broccoli and cover the pan. Listen for the boil, because that’s when you start counting the minutes. You do have a timer, don’t you?” I held the little jewel aloft. “Terrific! You’re just gonna love broccoli; I know you will.”

“Really, Susan, you should take it back. It’s going to be wasted on me. I’m not really much of a vegetable-eater, unless it’s green beans--which I totally love.” I moved the hand holding the broccoli up and down, trying to persuade Susan to take it.

“No. I’m not taking it back. You have to try it, just once. I know you’re gonna love broccoli,” Susan said with the fervor of a television evangelist.

I let a loud sigh escape my lips; gave Susan a twisted smile; and followed her to the front door. “Try it!” she said over her shoulder, bounding up the steps two-at-a-time.

Retreating to the kitchen, I followed Susan’s instructions to the letter. I resolved to cook the broccoli, take one teensy bite, and then, return the cooked broccoli to Susan. No reason to toss good food out; she’d eat it.

I allowed myself a quick smirk as I plunged my fork into the hot vegetable and retrieved a morsel. After blowing on the broccoli, I bit off a tiny bit. Hmm, not bad, I thought. I lifted the pot off the stove, turning to move over to the kitchen table.

I set the hot vessel down on a folded towel, and continued chomping on a few more of the tender flowers. Five minutes into the taste-test, I knew I needn’t dirty a plate; I’d be the only one eating the broccoli. Susan was right; I absolutely loved the broccoli.

As I sat at the table, savoring the delicious flavor of the fresh vegetable, a verse in psalms came to mind. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I laughed right out loud; God has such a cool sense of humor. “I get it, Lord. I rejected something You knew I’d really like, if only I’d give it a try.”

How many times do we miss out on something really good, preferring the known to the uncertain? The verse in Psalm 34:8 adds a bit of supernatural assurance to the admonition.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” (NIV)

In the King James Version, the verse finishes with “blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”

As I came to the end of the pot of broccoli (which constituted my entire dinner that night) I reassured myself that many years earlier I had tasted and had seen that the Lord is good. But, I had to ask myself, “Do you trusteth in the Lord? Or, do you just trusteth Him when you already know what’s ahead?”

The lesson of the broccoli served to wake me up to more than the delightful taste of a new fresh vegetable. Good thing, too, because the Lord had planned a world of new experiences ahead of me. I’d have plenty of opportunities to taste and see new things, as well as learn to trusteth in Him, and often to take refuge in Him, too!

Broccoli? I still love broccoli. I can eat half a plate of it with a piece of fish—my idea of a great meal.

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