Eph 3:17-19 "…that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." (from THE MESSAGE)
"Would you like a coconut?"
The question startled me. The picture-perfect Haitian beach, from the artistically-placed row of palm trees lining the edge of the smooth, white sand to the emerald-colored waves that gently lapped against the shore, had so held my attention, that I hadn't even realized someone was with me! "A coconut?" I managed to mumble, pulling my thoughts away from the striking scene in front of me to the smiling 16 year-old at my side.
Now that he had my attention, the full meaning of his question dawned on me. NO!! I DIDN'T want a COCONUT! You see, I knew ALL about coconuts. As a boy, I had purchased these furry brown, bowl-like fruit from the markets in Belgium where I had grown up. I vividly remembered them to be impossible to open without the aid of a hammer, and once opened, the tablespoon of watery fluid and the thin layer of white flesh that was impossible to chew and tasted somewhat like cardboard was HARDLY WORTH the effort it took to GET OUT THE HAMMER! Why would I want one of those???
My tone was somewhat incredulous as I repeated: "A coconut????" But when I read on the boy's face that he REALLY wanted to share a coconut with me, I gave a resigning sigh: "Sure, why not?"
That's when I notice that the boy didn't even HAVE a coconut in his hands, and we were miles from any market! "Where are you going to get one?" I asked, my voice resounding a little more excitement now. Maybe I would be able to get out of this after all!
But no. The boy's face brightened up instantly. "No problem, man!" He said, gesturing to the abundant palm trees. "I have a machete. I will get you one fresh from the tree!"
I stared at him. What if, while engaging in getting me a fruit that I didn't even want, he fell? What if he hurt himself? Did I want THAT on my conscience? "I-isn't that dangerous?" I stammered, trying desperately to think of a way out of this. "It's okay, you know! You can share a coconut with me another time!" I couldn't totally keep the excitement of not having to "experience" that particular fruit out of my voice.
But I hardly had finished speaking when this smiling native scooted up the nearest palm tree! I have no idea how he did it, because when I tried it later, I barely made it up a meter! But this lad went up the smooth trunk of that tree as if it came equipped with steps!
Once he reached the top (which only seemed to take him about 5 seconds!), he took his machete out of his belt with one hand, yelled to me to move away from the tree, and proceeded to whack one of those brown balls off of the tree. Plouf. It fell straight into the sand.
While the boy "slid" back down the tree trunk, I moved over to examine the fruit more closely. Since I obviously was going to have to eat this offensive fruit, my only hope was that Haitian coconuts were somehow different than the ones you buy in the markets of Belgium! But no. It looked exactly the same as all the other coconuts I'd ever seen. I looked around, almost desperately. Was there NO way out of this? Then it came to me! The boy didn't have a hammer! Surely he wouldn't be able to open it without a hammer!
But even this last hope was dashed when the boy again whipped out his machete, and holding the coconut in one hand, nimbly chopped it in two. Amazing! I KNEW I would never even have the DESIRE to try that! With my aim (or lack of it!), I would probably maim myself for life just opening the worthless fruit!
But when the boy handed me the bottom-half of the coconut, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was filled to the brim with juice! Never in my life had I been able to get more than a few drops of juice out of the coconuts available in Belgium. I took a sip, and that juice was like NOTHING I had ever tasted before. It was better than sweet, rich nectar! Wow!
The boy then deftly separated the flesh from its shell and handed it to me, and to my amazement, it didn't taste anything like cardboard! In fact, it was so soft and moist that I couldn't think of anything to compare it to that would do it justice! It was pure ecstasy! Never had I dreamed that coconuts could be that delicious! I turned to the native Haitian boy and thanked him. He had no idea how much he had just changed my false conception of coconuts!
Reflecting on this experience, I realize that life is so much like those coconuts sold at the markets and grocery stores of the western world. We become so used to the pleasure of this life that we stop believing there's anything better. The idea of trying something new-like accepting Jesus for example-doesn't sound inviting at all. However, once we taste the real gospel message, once we REALLY get to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we discover that we haven't led a real life at all. We realize that the pleasures we are used to are really juiceless and hard to chew!
I used to live from weekend to weekend with nothing to show for it. I was empty and unhappy. This all changed when I began to experience Jesus. I found myself becoming really free to enjoy life to its fullest. Just like the Haitian boy taught me what a REAL coconut tastes like, Jesus taught me what REAL life is.
If you have not experienced Him into your life, I would like you to encourage you to invite Him into your heart and accept His friendship. You will be amazed!
Would you like a fresh coconut?
I think I will pass. I want to experience Jesus instead!
I hope this study map has been a blessing to you. To a world gone mad, trying to get to know Jesus may seem foolish. However if you give Him a try, you will desire to get to know Him more and more at the deepest level possible. His relationship with you will be more precious compared to any other human relationships out there. Enjoy getting to know Him.
* All Bible texts ate taken from the NIV, unless otherwise indicated.
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