I looked down at my hands, streaked with red. Another berry stain. Strawberry picking apparently isn't my forte. I kept finding what I considered to be a good looking berry only to have its rotten side "get" me with juice. I know, I know... ew. As I found berry after berry with the same problem, I started to think. As everyone else with me was elsewhere in the field, I was content with my own thoughts.
Strangely, I began to think how like a strawberry I can be. I had just come back from the beach, but it had nothing to do with my susceptible-to-sunburn self. I have red hair but it wasn't because of that. Bear with me as I try to type out my analogy. These things can make so much sense in my head.
I thought with horror that I'm like that strawberry, the nasty one I picked up. How easy it is for me to go to church or to talk with friends like that shiny pretty berry. How I can say good things and encourage and blah-blah-blah. But then I go home, and even before I've taken off the makeup I've realized what a horrible phony I am.
God picks me up and turns me over and gets nasty juice all over His hands.
He is the kind strawberry picker (you don't hear this analogy much, do ya kids?). He doesn't throw me down and say "Oh GROSS! Another one!" but picks me up, notices the bad spot, and puts me in the bucket. If I really were a strawberry and strawberries could think, I'd probably notice that pretty much all the berries in the basket were disgusting with juicy spots like me. He'd buy the berries and take them home. Examining each strawberry carefully, He washes the dirt off, gently, so as not to make the berry-wound bigger. Then he cuts around the nasty part. With a flick of the knife and perhaps a little pain inflicted on the berry, it's no longer bad.
And you know what? Though I'm not a strawberry, I see how God's done that with me. He doesn't just leave me where I am, throw me in the dirt, or accidentally squash me after someone else threw me away. No! He picks me up knowing full well that I'm nasty and maybe that I have a few bugs. He paid for me, took me home, and cleaned me up. He cut away the bad things, and now I'm pretty! I'm not a perfect berry (have you ever noticed that the only perfect strawberries are plastic?) but I'm clean. And I'm presentable. And it's all because of Him because how silly would it be to say a strawberry washed the dirt off itself? Someone had to do it for it!
As I thought about it there in the heat, hunched over in a strawberry field, I was reminded of how God "chose" us, imperfect and rotten as we were: "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." [Titus 3:5-6]