In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning relates a Zen story about a monk who is being pursued by a raging tiger. Forced to the edge of a cliff, the monk discovers a rope hanging over the edge and narrowly escapes the ferocious animal’s jaws. Hundreds of feet below, he sees the bottom of the rugged canyon. When he looks up, the tiger is still staring at him, but now two small mice are nibbling on the rope. What should the monk do?
The monk notices a strawberry within arm’s length growing on the side of the cliff. Straining, he picks it, eats it and exclaims, “Yum-yum – thats the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted!”
Manning points out that if the monk had been preoccupied with the rock below (the future) or the tiger stationed above (the past), he would have missed the strawberry God was giving him at the moment.
God’s strawberries are all around us, but we often fail to notice them, pick them or enjoy their succulent flavor. When we find ourselves between a tiger and a hard place, we often turn to our most primitive instinct: survival. Instead of noticing God’s provision for us, we focus on the problem and our need to escape. God has not forgotten us, and He’ll even grow strawberries in life’s rockiest patches to prove it.
Can you think of any strawberries God has grown for you? They come in different forms, but they have one thing in common: they’re easy to overlook. A call from your mom. A spectacular sunset or moon rising. A random letter from an old friend. The announcement of a baby’s birth. A sale at your favorite department store. A knee-melting kiss. Ice cream with sprinkles. A smile from a stranger. Scripture that breathes life and delivers hope. A newspaper that arrives two feet closer to your doorstep. Someone who says nothing, but simply listens. Photo albums loaded with some of life’s best memories. A walk through the woods. God’s strawberries.
Maybe you’re in a need of a strawberry. If so, keep your eyes open. Don’t let raging tigers or jagged rocks distract you. God may have one for you just around the corner. Or maybe you can offer a strawberry to someone else. Pick up the phone. Dust off your stationary collection. Jot a note. Blow up balloons. Offer a quiet prayer. Clip a comic. Someone else could be staring up at a tiger right now.
Do something kind for three people today.
Father, forgive me for wanting out of a situation more than wanting to find You in it. Help me to remember that no adversity comes without Your permission. Increase my faith in you.