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“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)
Have you ever eaten a freshly steamed artichoke? I remember my first one. After dowsing the first outside leaf in lemon butter, careful not to get pricked by the tiny thorn at the end, I scraped my teeth across a tough outer edge only to get barely a tongue-full of flavor. But it was enough to make me want some more. I grabbed the next leaf and the next. The leaves were more tender and flavorful. I was sure I was nearing the heart of the artichoke, the best part. I instead hit the fibrous, inedible fuzz, called the “choke”. To get to the heart, I had to scrape away all of the gunk first.
I was so tempted to give up. I’d had a bit of scrumptiousness. Perhaps that was enough. I began to justify my plight. Maybe these fibers were a warning. I should stay away and not dig into them. What lay beneath may not be as tasty as I thought it was. Maybe the heart was rotten or tough.
I thought about my life as if it were an artichoke. First, there are the little thorns that prick us as we try to get to the good stuff. Those are trials and tribulations. Nothing good comes easy, right? Then there are the small blessings, like the tiny amount of flesh scraped from an artichoke leaf. But, the more we taste God’s goodness, the more we recognize it in our lives and want more of it. But mostly, I realized all the things that separated me from fully receiving God’s blessings had to first be arduously and carefully removed, just like the choke. It’s easy to become entangled in the inedible fibers of life and then give up hope of ever reaching the good stuff.
Isn’t it funny how we can twist things around? I turned my desire to avoid the hard work of getting through the rough part into God telling me I didn’t deserve any more. I convinced myself that He blocked me from going further for a reason. To my surprise, God helped me peel away each layer of the choke around my heart. Together we tackled what had become entangled in my life. Little by little, more goodness emerged. I could see that we were making progress.
The more I think about it, the more God’s gentleness, His patience, and His careful guiding put me in awe. I can see that now, but when I was in the middle of it, all I could see was the fuzzy choke. I thought I’d never get to the heart at the end. A few times I scooted away and said I’d had enough.
Then my soul’s stomach would growl. Feed me. With a deep sigh I knew I couldn’t shove this arduous task aside and start on a new issue until this task was accomplished.
So, once again I scooted towards the plate and began to remove the prickly fibers, confident that underneath lay the heart of the matter—a deeper relationship with God, and with those around me. In the back of my mind, I heard the reassuring voice saying, “Atta girl. Keep at it. Taste my goodness.”
Note: Excerpt from her newly released Bible study: Between the Window and the Door.
Question: What choke have you encountered in your life? Did you see it as a sign to stop, or to go forward with God’s help?