“This is an olive dish from Cypress. The large section is for the olives, the little ones are for the pits.” –Tom & Karen, missionaries to Cypress.
On Sunday I was handed a little green gift bag by a dear couple who have invested decades into missions work. Tom and Karen are currently back in the USA for a short time to take care of Tom’s ailing mother. The green bag they gave me on Sunday contained the little dish in the picture, along with a very encouraging card. I’ve not yet spoken with them since opening it on Monday morning but, when I do, I’m going to ask them if the emphasis I’m about to share was intentional from them.
The little dish struck me on Monday when I read the words in the card as being a fit metaphor for life. Olives — juicy, nourishing, spoken of often in scripture — are meant to be enjoyed. They are not a staple for life but rather a perk, something extra given to be pleasing. I noted that the large section of the dish was devoted to house the olives themselves. The better part of the dish was reserved for them. I recognized quickly that I have not been faithful in thinking of life this way for a few weeks now. I’ve ignored the olives that God has given me and not remembered that He has carved out the larger part of life to be experienced with pleasure, joy and satisfaction. With eternity settled and earthly life blessed, I should be living with olive juice streaming down my chin from a large toothy smile. If you read yesterday’s blog post you heard me confess that I’ve allowed myself to be distracted and encumbered with care for too many days this year. I have forgotten to reserve the larger section of life’s dish for the olives.
I think that Karen must have written the note in the card because the handwriting is that of a female (no smudges from lingering fingertip food). When she closed the card with the line, “…The little ones are for the pits” I suddenly found myself instructed. Why would someone want a large portion of their life to be designated for the pits? Olive pits are the cast-off portions – nothing desirable in them at all. Don’t cherish them, don’t focus upon them; chew around them and spit them out and then throw them away. Nobody eats the pits because there is nothing palatable in them at all. We still have to deal with them if we wish to enjoy the olives, but nobody in his right mind would miss out on the olive due to the existence of the pits. This is not sublime thought today but it certainly is a good reminder of how susceptible we are to welcoming the pits to fill the large section of our lives while only cultivating a small space for the olives.
No wonder we sometimes sense the flavorlessness of life in the pits. we are to spit them out, not roll them around our tongues while hoping for fulfillment.
I’ve set the dish and the card to the left of my computer where my eyes fall several times each day. I’m unsure how long I will leave it there but I’m in no hurry to let this lesson fade. Frankly, I’ve got a mindful of pits right now and I’m about to go and get still before the Lord and ask Him to enlarge my olive section. I hope I don’t ask him to take the bad away again – what a huge temptation for me and you.
I’m praying that He will give me the desire in my heart to welcome the pits if its the only way to enjoy the olives from His hand. I’m fairly convinced that it is a 2 for 1 deal — no pits, then no olive.
Today, you have your own dish with it’s own sized sections. I pray that you will discern that the larger part is filled with blessing and the smaller sections can contain the accompanying pits. Let’s remember together that life on earth will contain those disappointments, fears, hurts and frustrations. God will direct us to the larger place He has made for grace, courage, faith and endurance. We will find joy there also — substantial, growing, anchoring joy which gives us songs — loud and victorious.
May there be an abundance of olives on our breath as He listens to our praise.
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