Thrilled to share with you these words of wisdom from my dear friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee. I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for her book coming out next spring ~ Love Idol. It’s powerful and profound… as are the thoughts Jennifer shares with us today:
I have an almost insatiable appetite for tomatoes. I love them sliced, diced and pureed. When garden tomatoes are paired with mozzarella, they’re divine. When drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with goat cheese? Heavenly.
I am the boss of the BLT, … and, as a result, the queen of the canker sore.
I could make tomato-eating an Olympic sport, but truth be told: I have been a pretty poor tomato-grower. It’s not for lack of effort. I do carefully tend to my garden, but it seems my brown-thumb often cannot support my appetite. This summer, I became especially concerned as I looked out the kitchen window toward my little garden plot.
It was August, but green orbs weighed down my vines. Meanwhile, my neighbors were hauling in their own ripe tomatoes by the bucket-loads. My Instagram feed revealed friends grinning wildly over their harvest, lined up in pressure-sealed jars.
And then, behold, one day, a hint of orange peeked shyly from beneath the leaves. Just one … little … tomato.
I plucked it from the garden, and served it next to a pillow of cottage cheese.
Days later, I spotted two more tomatoes. We ate thick slices on hamburgers.
That’s how it went for weeks this summer, getting only a few here and there, but always enough for us, always enough for just one day – a sort of summertime manna.
But in life, how often am I really satisfied with my daily manna? If I get honest, there are so many times where I think I’ll be happy if I have just one more –
One more subscriber to the blog – then I’ll be a “real” blogger.
One more friend in my corner – so I won’t feel so alone.
One more assurance from my husband – so I feel a little bit better about myself, as if earthly praise could ever really feed the deeper hunger I have.
Rarely do we say: “I have enough money in the bank account. I have enough followers or friends or (_________).”
When is the last time you heard a pastor say: “There are enough people in the pews, and enough dollars in the offering plate.”
I wonder, how often Christian authors look at their Amazon sales figures and say out loud: “You know? That’s good enough. I don’t need to sell any more.”
The “somebodies” at the front of the church have felt it, just as deeply as the “nobody” in the back row. We want to be known, approved, accepted, liked.
We envy others’ proverbial tomato crop of success, acceptance, even fame.
I wrote a whole book about that; it comes out in April. And even as I wait for the book’s release, I find myself tempted to fall into old habits of desiring the praise and approval of humans. Often, God rights my wrong thinking by quietly whispering back the words that He gave me as I wrote that book. He’s pretty amazing with that grace of His.
I think it’s important to tell you that I know firsthand how God uses well-timed praise or a pat on the back to encourage us in our faith. But I daily ask myself this question: How often does my need for human praise eclipse my need for God?
If everything else were taken away, would I be satisfied with my “one tomato?” Or even a garden of green orbs that never ripened?
Until we are satisfied with our identity in Christ, we will never be satisfied with anything else.
God is daily teaching me to appreciate what He has already given me, and even more than that, to appreciate who He is. To desire the Giver, more than the gifts.
And as it turns out, while I haven’t always gotten what I thought I wanted, God has always given me more than I ever needed.
Just now, I have two late-season tomatoes sitting in a basket on the kitchen table.
Jennifer Dukes Lee used to cover crime, politics, and natural disasters as an award-winning news journalist in Iowa. Now, Jennifer uses her reporting skills to chase after the biggest news in history: the redemptive story of Christ. She blogs about grace and God’s glory at www.JenniferDukesLee.com. She is a contributing editor at www.TheHighCalling.org. She and her husband live on the Lee family farm in Iowa with their two daughters. She is the author of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes (Tyndale Momentum, April 2014.)
Jennifer invites you to connect with her on Twitter @dukeslee, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JenniferDukesLee.