“God might want you to extend his love by offering to babysit for the single parent down the street. He might want you to prepare a hearty meal for that lonely older man who lost his wife — and to sit and visit with him while he eats. Who knows, he might even want you to reach out and touch the life of a total stranger in some way you can’t imagine right now. Are you willing to set aside your comfort to touch someone else with God’s love?” Amy Nappa
One Saturday morning, a friend assembled a new computer chair for me. As a token of thanks, I invited her to stay for lunch. We sat at my kitchen table to enjoy a sandwich and a vegetable platter. As I popped a cherry tomato in my mouth, I suddenly chuckled and almost choked. After swallowing, with tears of laughter in my eyes, I explained that the first time I had ever eaten a cherry tomato was at the same table but in a much different setting.
When I was around ten years old, my grandmother invited me for lunch after my weekly voice lessons. While I was well used to the bus route between my home and my singing instructor’s studio, I had never been to my grandparent’s home by myself. I arrived safe and sound, quite proud of my accomplishment. My grandmother ushered me into the kitchen for a celebratory glass of milk. I perched on a stool as she took care of the last-minute details of our luncheon. She set the table with china, water goblets, cloth napkins, and placemats. This was a far cry from the Corelle dinnerware, paper napkins, and plastic tumblers that I was used to at home, and I was nervous. I was thankful we were eating in the kitchen, not the fancy dining room!
My grandparents lived in a sprawling ranch house at the top of a beautifully landscaped hill in an upper-class neighbourhood. Their walls were graced with oil paintings by accomplished artists, and each piece of their furniture was finely crafted, Antique occasional tables displayed treasures gathered from many overseas trips.
It was a simple meal, just a sandwich and green salad, but my grandmother had added garnishes of grape tomatoes and carrot curls to our salads. Carefully remembering my mother’s etiquette pointers, I managed to make my way through the meal without too much of a fuss. The two beautiful little tomatoes stymied me, however. They looked so cute! After several failed attempts to stab one with my fork, I looked across the table to my very prim and proper grandmother for help.
With a rare smile, she picked up one of the tomatoes on her plate with her fingertips and explained. “This is how you should not eat a ripe cherry tomato.” She promptly took a sharp nibble from the juicy tomato, which caused a fine spray of juice to splatter on the table and our water goblets. Laughing at my shocked expression, she demonstrated the proper way to eat a grape tomato with great flourish. I broke into giggles, and the ice was broken between us. Soon, she and I were chatting about our mutual passion for reading. All my earlier awkwardness and nervousness slipped away.
When I settled back in Canada after years of travelling, I ended up with that ordinary kitchen table. My grandmother had died years earlier, and the memory of that special lunch in her kitchen made that table priceless. I treasure it more than anything else I could have received from her estate.
As an adult, I realised the sacrifice my grandmother had made the day she invited me for lunch. My grandma suffered from chronic depression much of her life, and as she aged, children quickly drained her emotional and physical stamina. That day, she moved past her discomfort to give me a memory I will cherish forever.
What did my grandmother teach me about personal sacrifice through cherry tomatoes? Sometimes, love is all that propels you thru tough times.
Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Luke 9:23-24 – “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
As we read the above scripture, it is easy for our minds to wander to the possibility of martyrdom or at the very least, the probability of suffering great persecution due to our public display of devotion to Christ. However, note the word “daily.” One cannot sacrifice one’s life through martyrdom daily. One cannot be thrown into jail daily or lose one’s job daily by taking up one’s cross. So what was Jesus talking about?
In my grandmother’s case, she picked up her cross by inviting a talkative little girl into her quiet sanctuary. She sacrificed her dignity to break the ice between us by biting into a cherry tomato.
For a writer like myself, especially on my Monday writing days, I pick up my cross by choosing to answer the phone or respond to an email or text when I would much instead write uninterrupted.
An introvert’s cross might be inviting a verbal processor friend out for coffee on their day off when that person needs to talk things through.
Perhaps, it’s apologising for a misunderstanding and then accepting the sad fact that the other party may never see the need to apologise for their part in the dispute but loving them anyhow.
Perhaps, it’s bringing up a difficult conversation with a loved one, even though it would be much easier to allow things to drift.
It is not only the countless little things we do each day for others but also the attitude we display as we do those countless little things. This is how we pick up our cross and follow Him.
The Cross is not a place of defeat as a believer. It is a place of victory. Satan thought he had won on Good Friday. Little did he know! God’s greatest sacrifice would result in eternal triumph. As you daily pick up your cross and follow after Jesus, never forget where He is leading you!
2 Corinthians 2:14 – “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
Until Next Week
©2023 Katherine Walden