Arugula, Also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, was a name of something I may of heard of once or twice; but never really had an appreciation for what it was. Over the past week that has all changed.
Arugula is a type of lettuce with an odd shape and an odd taste. The leaves of the plant are shaped somewhat like the leaves of an oak. Dark, like spinach, they really don’t look much like a lettuce at all. But, it is the taste of the plant that really separates it from it leafy brothers. The taste starts out nutty, really on the bitter side. But, as one’s taste buds slowly acclimate themselves to the unusual flavor, a slow aftertaste begins to creep over the tongue. The bitterness slowly subsides, replaced by a subtle almost gentle sweetness. With each bite of a sandwich or spearing of a salad, the taste becomes bolder and more pleasing. Arugula, as they say, holds a promise with each bite; the promise that eventually it will be sweet if only you can stand the initial bitterness. It holds a hope of flavor that compels you to keep going, pushing through the present in order to gain what lays in store.
Heavenly citizens like you and I taste life in much the same way. On the one hand we must endure the bitterness of our daily, sinful lives. On the other, we defiantly struggle on, spurred by the hope that something sweeter lays in store.
As Vice President, George Bush Sr. represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband. (Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26.)
Without such hope, hope that the bitter will be replaced by the sweet, life would be entirely untolerable for a Christian. Eventually we would be numbed into a mindless and hopeless station, secured in the bitterness of our daily walk, even satisfied that there is nothing beyond it. Thank God that life is like an arugula sandwich. It’s bitterness tolerable because the finish is so sweet for those who know Jesus.
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