Recently I noticed that the lemon tree in my yard had an abundance of lemons that had fallen to the ground and even more still on the tree. This in itself is unexpected because we do nothing to help this tree along. The sprinklers don’t reach it, we don’t water, no fertilizer, nothing. Yet, here were all the lemons. So I collected the ones from the ground; most of them were too far gone to be useful. Then I took a basket and picked the ripe ones (that I could reach) from the tree. And, just in time because my bottle of non-concentrated lemon juice was almost empty. The lemons look so pretty in my blue bowl. And I was thankful for the bounty.
I started thinking about a lemon. If you bite into it like an orange, whoa doggie!! That is sure sour! Oh my gosh… can you say pucker up and spit it out? And you might be tempted to ask, “What were you thinking God?” Yet, when we squeeze a bit of lemon on a salad or in a glass of water; use it to cook some seafood or chicken, the beauty of a lemon shines through. It adds some freshness to the food and some brightness. There is a sweet side to the lemons after all.
Then I read Monday’s Gospel reading, Matthew 19:21
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”
Whoa doggie!! This is a lemon of a Gospel – it left a bit of a sour taste with me and certainly made me pucker up & want to spit it out (reject it). And say, “What were you thinking, Jesus? Sell all my possessions, give the money to the poor! I’m not sure I want to do that; I’m not ready to do that. But I want to come with you.”
Jonathan Erdman, who is writing the meditations for Forward Day by Day this month, made sense of this for me. “It was not too late for the young man, and it is never too late for you or me-new choices will come along for all of us. Fail and try again. Seize each opportunity. Learn, grow and keep moving. We must be patient with ourselves, for we are not on our own; we are following Jesus.” This might not be an all or nothing choice.
Like squeezing the lemon, maybe I can add some brightness and freshness to my life story. I can give freely of what I have – my time, my talents, my money, my possessions, my love. When I give of myself I temper the sourness of the lemon and brighten someone else’s day. Whether I’m serving at church, offering a shoulder to a friend, donating to the battered woman’s shelter, taking photos, writing this blog… I’m giving of my possessions & myself to others. I’m walking with Jesus, seizing any opportunity to learn & grow & give. So, if life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade… give, give, give and you will find the flavor and brightness Jesus has to offer.
Visit Forward Day By Day for meditations on the scriptures here: Forward Day by Day.