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Repentance and Potatoes

Crystal Roseborough, Spiritual Formation Director

It's true. I'm a mid-west girl and I love my potatoes!  Potatoes were a staple when I was growing up. Because we grew them and always had plenty, my mom could fix them every night and they would taste different and delightful every time!   I don't cook with potatoes as much as I used to or would like to.  I found out one day that they are carbs.  My heart was sad!  But still, every once in a while I long for a taste of home and decide to cook up a batch of mouthwatering mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes. Pure candy! (At least that's what my kids say and I feel the same.)

I bought a bag not long ago and looked forward to that taste! I pulled the bag out to prepare them for a scrumptious mashed potato meal and began peeling and cutting.  Ugh...
dark spots. I don't know what happened to this poor bag of potatoes, but almost every potato in the bag had to be tossed away. Unusable. Most of the time, it's just a small spot here or there. I'm sure you've experienced the same.

And then, a few months later, it happened. The thing...you know, the thing that surfaces now and then that exposes a part of me that I don't like. You would think that after all this time, those "things" would no longer show up. But they do and this one came on with a vengeance.  I sat in my chair the next morning and began reading about Jesus and His early days of ministry. I tried to imagine how he felt and what he might be thinking as he launched out to fulfill this plan that was put together for our redemption.  I asked God to reveal something to me personally that would speak to this frustration from the day before and help me deal with that "thing".  As I read through and imagined the scene in Matthew 3 and 4, this is what I noticed:

* The Humility  
The Son of God began his ministry by being baptized. Why? He was without sin. He didn't need to engage in this sign of forgiveness.  And yet, he chose to respond to this humble act as a way of fulfilling God's mission. He, the very Son of God, lived a life of choosing humility over displaying his God-ness!  If Jesus can choose a posture of humility, I want to choose that posture as well. If Jesus can choose humility as he interacts with all of man kind, I want to choose that also.

* He Knew His Purpose and His Heart was Set On His Father
When he was led into 40 days and nights in the desert and the tempter came to him, he knew who he was and who he served.   As I imagined his hungry body and how much he must have wanted to fulfill his longing for food, He didn't cave!   He quoted scripture instead. As I imagined his human desire to show the tempter a thing or two by calling upon the angels as he jumped from the highest point of the temple, he quoted scripture again instead! And a third time, those words from the evil one, trying to claim that he had the power to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just bow down and worship him! Ha!  A third time, Jesus quoted scripture!   Jesus knew who he was and he knew his mission. Most importantly he knew who he loved! Even if it was hard, he knew!   I want to know those things for myself as well. I do not want to become distracted by anything that takes my mind off the Father and the mission he has for me.

So at this point, you may be asking what this has to do with potatoes.  Well...hang on a minute longer...I'll get there...

Prior to Jesus being baptized, John the Baptist was on the scene.  John the Baptist was very different from most religious leaders of the time and his mission was to prepare the people to welcome Jesus.  He separated himself from the hypocrisy and selfishness of the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of the day) to reveal a new way.  A new way of living that was about the heart, the being and doing out of authenticity, rather than rules, ritual, pride and deceit.

When he saw the religious leaders beginning to congregate in the area where he was baptizing, John called them out and exposed their sin...And he told them to,
"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."  
I'll say it again.  "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

And THAT is when I pictured those potatoes!  Only God and I know the brown spots in my life that are deep within. Those places I have yet to fully give over to Him, the things that require repentance. The question is, what are the remaining brown spots that hinder my full loving service to God?  The spots that are often unseen, that only affect me?   The brown spot that was revealed yesterday was not the kind of "fruit" that God desires.    As I sat in my chair, I asked God to help me remove this spot.  I asked him to show me what he wanted to reveal to me about this area in my life.  And I cried when He told me.

That is the way of repentance. To be fully aware of an action in my life that does not reveal full dependence and love of the Father. Taking the top of the potato peeler and gently taking out the spot that isn't adding to the pure taste of the potato or the pure fruit of Jesus in my life. And it felt good. I sat in agreement with God. And my heart was lighter.

The invitation.    
As you take time to sit with scripture and take it into your imagination, what might God want to reveal to you?  

One thing I know for sure, I will never look at a bag of potatoes the same again!

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