Different seasons bring different flavors. Christmas is peppermint or egg nog, summer is watermelon or peach, and fall is without-a-doubt pumpkin.
Some people aren’t into pumpkin and that’s okay, but I like to embrace this fall favorite. Yes, I’m the person that gobbles down pumpkin bread, burns pumpkin candles, goes for the pumpkin tea, and has to resist buying every possible pumpkin item sold this time of year.
So naturally my mind has been on pumpkin a lot lately. But my mind’s been on a lot of other stuff too. It’s been on hard stuff. Like the “why God” stuff and the “what now” stuff. It’s not surprising that my mind combined the two. Thankfully, it wasn’t in some sort of crazy nightmare about pumpkins, but it was a reminder of a poem that I’m sure many of you have read previously. I honestly don’t know where this poem originated or who wrote it, but this is how one of its many versions goes:
Being a Christian is just like a pumpkin! First, God picks you from the world and brings you in. He then washes all the dirt off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. Then, He carefully removes all the yucky stuff out from the inside, all those seeds of sin, doubt, hate, greed, and fear from inside us. Then He carves a new smiling face. Now He fills us with His light. So you see, we Christians are really like this pumpkin! We will never be the same with Jesus inside of us.
The poem isn’t perfect, but I think it serves as a good illustration. It’s also really helped me mediate on the Lord as I’ve driven by countless pumpkin patches, pumpkin decor, and pumpkin-flavored-everything this fall, especially as I’ve wrestled with the hard stuff. You see, I’ve felt like lately God has been spending a lot of time removing the yucky stuff. The problem is sometimes the yucky stuff doesn’t seem so yucky. Sometimes the yucky stuff seems fine. Sometimes the yucky stuff actually seems great.
It seems like I usually hold onto the yucky stuff until it creates some sort of problem. The thing is the problem has to be pretty big for me to even realize it’s worth investigating. Even if the yucky stuff is seeping out,it usually takes some sort of painful carving and gruesome lid-lifting before I see just how yucky my pumpkin guts really are.
The lid of the pumpkin isn’t the problem. A nicely carved pumpkin could be just as clean with the lid nicely in place, but something has to go in order to see what’s inside the pumpkin. Maybe the lid is a relationship or a dream or a job or a feeling. Maybe it’s even one of life’s horrible losses like health or death. Maybe it’s something that makes total since to lose or maybe it’s something that makes no sense at all. Maybe it’s something God called you to do. But for some reason, that pumpkin lid had to go to expose the pumpkin guts.
In this season, I feel like I keep having lids removed that don’t make sense to me. I’m sure they make sense to God, but that doesn’t always make it easier to be walking around without a lid. Sometimes it makes me want to try to fill the big hole exposing my pumpkin guts with something else. Sometimes it makes me want to try to roll myself up to a wall and hide the big hole and the yucky stuff. Sometimes it makes me wish I could just start over with a whole new pumpkin. If being completely exposed isn’t bad enough, examining each seed, string, and bit of goop, mush, and slime just makes this process plain old excruciating.
But how else will I get to a place where God’s light can shine through me? How else will I keep from rolling back into the dirt? How else will I be able to tell others about the new face He’s carved on me?
If I were adding a line to the pumpkin poem, I might include something like this:
With Jesus inside us, He is constantly working to remove the yucky stuff that seeps back into our pumpkin. He loves to melt away our sin, but first we have to take a look inside and see what needs to go away.