I am not a fan of the weekly grocery-shopping chore. I’m not really a great cook, so I don’t enjoy shopping for ingredients to make delicious meals. Plus, it’s a continuous challenge to keep my grocery shopping within our budget as food prices continue to creep upward. While I am thankful for the means to go shopping for food, the entire process is just not that fun for me. I see other people at the store who seem to really enjoy the whole experience, but I can’t seem to join them.
I put the food in the cart. Then I put the food onto the conveyor at the check out, and then back into the cart again. I push it out to the car and unload it into the car, drive it home, unload it again, carry it all inside, and put it away. I’m tired just thinking about it all.
On my most recent trip to the store I found myself in the produce aisle shopping for apples. There are a million different kinds of apples. I needed juicy, crunchy apples. This was a request from my husband. I am not a produce expert. More often than not, I am unable to select the best of apples. Although I try my best, lots of times I end up with bruised, mushy apples.
As I stood staring at my apple choices, a young store employee came and stood next to me. He started picking up each apple, turning it over in his hands and looking at each one. Some he would keep, and some he would put back. I really only gave him a cursory glance, as I was busy trying to decide which apples looked crunchy and juicy. I did notice he was sighing a lot, and finally, with an apple in his hand, he turned to me and asked me if I would be willing to buy the apple he had. He pointed out a few small brown spots, asked if those were common for that kind of apple, and would they keep me from buying it.
The poor kid had no idea who he was talking to. I said I didn’t know if those spots were common to that kind of apple, but either way, I probably would not buy it. He said, “Yeh, me neither”, and tossed it into a box. It wasn’t until then that I realized what he was doing. He was trying to sort out the bad apples.
Our little exchange apparently made him feel comfortable enough to confide some things in me. Maybe I reminded him of his mother.
He told me he had no idea what he was doing. He usually worked in the garden center, but they had pulled him inside and told him to sort through all the apples and pick out the bad ones. He said, “I’m not an expert at picking out bad apples.” I wanted to tell him that I was really good at picking out bad apples and that usually I bought them and took them home. Instead, I encouraged him to keep up the good work, and to be thankful he was no longer working outside in the heat.
I chose a few apples to take home and, as usual, hoped for the best. I thought it was interesting that I was there trying to find a few good apples and he was there looking for a few bad apples. It’s hard to tell sometimes without biting into an apple which are good and which are not. All you can do is judge an apple by the way it looks on the outside. You don’t get to check out the inside until you make an investment in the apple yourself.
In that way, people are a lot like apples. We have learned to present ourselves in such a way that others have no idea, really, what’s going on inside. We can shine ourselves up all nice and pretty on the outside, while on the inside we hide our bruises and mushiness.
It makes it hard for us to pick out those “bad apples”. Oh sometimes the wounds they carry can be pretty obvious, but not always. It takes an investment in some to find those. Mostly, we are forced to look upon their outward appearance and make a decision. The Bible even speaks to this dilemma. It tells us that while we have to look upon someone’s outward appearance, that God can look right into our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7)
He can look right past our shined up appearance and see the bruises we hide from those around us.
He’d make an excellent fruit inspector. That kid in the
fruit department was going to throw away those bad
apples. We tend to do that with people. God doesn’t
do that. He can look inside the brokenness of our lives
and make things new again. He’s not afraid of those
things, nor does he shy away from the injured. He is
ready to invest in them, heal them and use them for
his glory. And that’s a good thing…
Cause we’re all bad apples.