“I will restore to you the years the swarming locusts have eaten.” Joel 2:25
It just takes one person telling you one time… ask God to redeem what was lost or stolen. He can do it. He is the Redeemer who Lives, after all.
We love asparagus. Roasted in olive oil with herbes de Provence. Grilled with steak. Chopped and sautéed in butter with pasta.
It is a snap to prepare (get it!) and vibrant on the plate. However, it’s quite costly. Normally $3.99 a bunch, and often $4.99/bunch where we live. I finally discovered that the sales happen around April. This year, I’ve already bought 25 pounds of asparagus during two different sales. $1.99/lb and most recently, around Easter, $1.49/lb! So I have 15 pounds of asparagus in the fridge to trim, snap and freeze.
I started this a few years back and it’s wonderful to pull out on desperate nights, sauté in butter and pecan meal. I pretend it’s like eating the fried okra of my childhood. Or, we toss it in with our chicken and pasta right quick.
The only thing is I hate to see so much of the woody ends thrown out. They look fine to me, mostly. It’s sad to dump it into a plastic bag to rot.
A couple weeks ago, my cashier, Mrs. Sue Ann, said she loves asparagus too as she rang up my 10 bundles for me. She said, “You know, you don’t have to throw out the ends. I like to use it in soups.”
No! I didn’t know that! Wow! That felt like redemption!
You mean, half of this doesn’t have to go to waste?!?
I remember lamenting about years lost with my child due to postpartum depression. Then a friend who shared in that lament told me that one day she just asked God to redeem those years with her son… And God did! So, I asked Him to redeem my lost years… and He did!
He loves to redeem! That’s what the Cross is about. He takes our ashes and redeeming them into beauty. He takes our dirt and shame and grows Easter lilies out of us…or asparagus. : )
Asparagus ends soup. Redemption soup. Today as I chop and snap ends off, I recall ways He has redeemed. And I think of these things I’m still waiting for Him to redeem.
You may need Him to redeem what was lost in your marriage due to alcoholism or financial debt or adultery. You may need Him to redeem what was lost or stolen from your own childhood, losing your mom, an abuse, a trauma, a bully.
Maybe you also need God to heal and redeem some one else for the harm you caused them. Our guilt can eat us alive. Even when it was your poor choice that caused the heartache, God still forgives. He still heals. It’s pride to think He can forgive everyone but you. What makes you so different from all of mankind? The accuser would like you to believe you are the only one who has ever done such things.
But Jesus, the One Who Does Not Condemn, offers grace to us all. He remembers we are made of the dust (Psalm 103). He remembers our frailty. We all, like sheep, have gone astray.
Look at Paul’s life…one of the utmost prolific and influential believers of all time. And before Jesus changed his life and redeemed him from the pit, he was zealously murdering Christians and “in the name of God” (or religion, rather) no less! Look at Hosea and Gomer. She was never faithful and yet, Hosea still showed her love after buying her out of the prostitution she sold herself into. Look at the woman of the well. Slept around with many men and of a people group who was at odds with Jews…and yet, Jesus. He sought her out. Said I know what you’ve done and still, believe in Me. I offer you the Living Water. The woman in Luke 7… She loved much because she was forgiven much.
Often, I focus on the big trash heap of woody ends. They don’t taste good and they often feel like splinters in the mouth. Just wasted and painful. Sometimes, that’s as far as I get. I focus on what was lost or stolen or how I really messed it all up. And I just sit in that muck and decompose.
Other times, I focus only on the good, sweet-tasting ends. The nice bite and flavor. Seasoned with laughter, friendship, and joy.
But what I hope you and I can learn to do is realize those sweet ends of the asparagus would not even exist without enduring the cold, harsh winter, pushing through the frozen ground, growing through the woody ends.
I’m pretty sure the Lord doesn’t only focus on the one or the other like we do. He sees eternal with the bigger picture in mind. He knows that enjoying the fruit of our labor and the toil of our labor go hand in hand.
God never wastes anything.
Often, I’ve heard that our greatest areas of ministry come from our deepest pain or worst trials. Refinement in fiery trials seems to secrete an anointing oil in us when we get through it. An anointing that blesses those that come into our path who are struggling with those very things.
The woody ends of the asparagus are not the “ends,” after all. They are the bridge that got the produce out of the dark ground, through the woods, and up into a tender shoot in the sunlight. The woody ends are like a bridge, a wooden cross, so to speak.
Have hope. The “end” is not the end whenever the Cross bridges the gap.
The Lord knows how to make a hearty leek and asparagus bisque out of your broken ends.
And He knows that the very struggles you are ready to chuck in the trash bin and try to just forget—that those will one day serve multitudes of people who need that very thing to be nourished and strengthened.
Peace be with you.