We have a new produce store in our town. It’s reminiscent of a red-and-white-striped roadside stand, with air conditioning and doors that magically open when they sense my presence. My son and I visited on a day when a good portion of the produce was past its ‘sell by’ date. Bruised fruit sold at a deep discount, displaying a dance company of fruit flies. Blemished limes, soft tomatoes, spotted peppers, slightly brown cilantro, and fruit-fly-adorned red onions filled up my basket alongside several other selections. My mouth watered at the prospect of the culinary delight I had planned for my produce-stand rejects.
I could already envision the playful argument I would have with my husband, forbidding him to put the bowl of salsa to his lips like an umbrella drink. “That’s what the tortilla chips are for.”
Where other shoppers said ‘no way,’ I said, “Get into my basket!” These greengrocer rejects would make the most satisfying salsa, with a depth of flavor that jarred varieties could not compare to. I could create a gastronomical delight from what might otherwise be tomorrow’s trash.
On the way home my teenager and I talked about how most people would have walked away from the piles of fruit and veggies that we had gravitated to. We felt like we had hit pay dirt when we walked out of the store with six bags of produce for pittance. With our treasure in our hands, I realized how much our ‘finds’ were like people. Bruised and battered on the outside—but teeming with possibilities and potential in the right hands. They just need someone with vision to come along and pluck them from the bin.
It’s been 23 years since I was found in the discount section of life’s proverbial produce stand. That’s when I was “lifted out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire” (Psalm 40:2). What I saw in myself was ruined and bruised from mishandling, but Jesus saw so much more. He “set my feet upon a rock…and put a new song in my mouth” (Psalm 40:2, 3). He changed my name from ‘rejected’ to ‘chosen.’ When I look at what he continues to make me into, I see a vibrant recipe developed by someone who can create depth and abundance out of what was once damaged. And I have to say, life is much better on this side of the discount bin.