Yesterday we drove across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge between St. Petersburg and Bradenton, Florida. 174 feet above the water. I’ve been over that bridge many times but it’s still breathtaking. A huge tanker was going under the bridge just as we were going over. I wished we could just stop and watch for a while but there’s no stopping on the bridge! I wonder how many people going over that bridge yesterday were miles away in their thoughts and didn’t even notice the spectacular view much less the large ship below us.
After crossing the bridge, we drove for a few more minutes and arrived at our destination, Dooley Groves. We were on a mission to pick Honeybell tangelos. When it was our turn to go out to the grove, the guide gave us baskets and some specific instructions. The most important of which was, “watch out for fire ants.” The lanes between the trees were filled with fire ant hills and stepping on one would cause the ants to attack the closest foot or leg. With five children, five adults and a stroller it was tricky business to avoid the ants. Several times we had to quickly brush ants from the pants and shoes of one of us who, focused on the bright orange fruit, neglected to watch where we were walking. Fortunately there were no serious bites to contend with.
We picked enough to fill our baskets and headed back to the van for the trip back across the bridge. At home we were all anxious to taste the fruits of our labors which we had been thinking about all the way home. After peeling a softball-sized fruit, I had juice running down my arms. I’m sure I’ve never eaten an orange so close to harvest before. But as I ate, I realized that it would require some concentration to fully enjoy this treat. If I didn’t pay attention I could possibly break a tooth! LOTS of seeds! I found four in just one single segment as I ate. I just took my time and savored the sweet flavor but I was careful!
Afterwards I thought, could we just have gone to the grocery store and bought oranges (without seeds) with much less hassle? Of course. But the experience and the waiting and the effort it took to eat this delicious fruit made it all the more special. And the memories we made in the process will outlast the sweet flavor of the fruit.
I think sometimes we get in such a hurry to get to the next thing on our calendar or our to-do list that we miss the blessings that God has for us if we are willing to slow down and appreciate the moment. In a lot of ways, I believe God purposely puts fire ants and seeds in our path to cause us to slow down and pay attention.
Perhaps today you can take a look at the things in your path that may seem like a hassle and think about why God may have put them there. It might just be that a sweet blessing is there waiting for you to notice.
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 31:19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.