About a month ago my husband, Chris, and our daughter, Aletheia, went pear picking at my in-laws’ farm. Chris’ mom and dad have a beautiful pear tree in their front yard, and with Aletheia’s help, Chris managed to fill a Rubbermaid trashcan with hundreds of pears.
At first the pears were hard as rocks, but with the last warm days of fall, the pears began to soften. When the smell of ripened pear started to fill our garage, we knew it was time to roll up our sleeves and start canning.
My mom joined in the process, and for several hours on a perfect fall afternoon, we washed, peeled and canned the delicious fruit for use this fall and winter.
I wanted to peel, but Chris and my mom ganged up on me. Apparently, they informed me, I “lack skill with the blade,” and was therefore banished to the sink to rinse, wash and dry.
One by one I washed the pears and set them on a large wooden tray. At first it was easy work, but as I got deeper and deeper into the pail, more and more pears turned up spotted, molding, or altogether rotten.
I was able to salvage most of the pears by cutting away the spotted or moldy parts, but there were two or three, way down deep that were too far gone to save. I remember one in particular. Black with rot, it was soft, covered in mold and oozed with sticky juice. I didn’t want to touch it, let alone pick it up and throw it away. I avoided that one, rotten pear for as long as I could.
That’s when I realized, in a flash of truth, that this rotten pear was a picture of grace. Here, in rotten fruit: grace.
Scripture tells us that in comparison to God and His righteousness we are but filthy rags because of our sin. I looked at the pear and wondered, is this what my sin looks like to God? Rotten? Decrepit? Grotesque?
I mustered my courage and reached down deep for the pear. I grasped at the rottenness and thankfulness poured from my heart.
I am thankful that, unlike me, God is never afraid to touch the rotten spots he finds inside my heart. I am thankful that He is skilled with the blade. That He willingly stands over the sink, washing, cleansing, and cutting away the bruised and deeply rotten places where sin has left its mark. I am thankful that He sees something worth keeping and works to uncover that which is good.
With these thoughts in mind, I took one last look at the rotten pear. As I tossed it away, I realized that this too is a picture of grace: No matter how rotten or deep the sin, God never declares us too far gone.
~From the archives