Every once in a while, I like to pour myself a bowl of cereal and relax on the couch to watch some sports on TV.
Who am I kidding? I do that pretty much every night and would gladly order cereal as a meal in a restaurant if it were socially acceptable.
I love cutting up pieces of a banana or a few strawberries over the cereal to enrich my experience, but occasionally, I’ll grab a bag of raisins from the pantry instead and share some with our kids as a special treat.
The boys love raisins and our little snack always takes me back to my childhood, remembering when I would eat a few of those tiny red boxes of Sun-Maid raisins.
But when I grab a handful of raisins and sprinkle them over my cereal, I can’t help but notice how these little dried fruits used to be far more exciting.
Indeed, something so small and unimpressive was once so plump and powerful in the form of a grape.
A mighty grape, so strong and crisp, filled with sweet juice and so rich with taste, now reduced to a shriveled shell of itself.
Once firm and crunchy, joined by its brethren as a cluster, now withered and weak, left to fend for itself in a plastic bag.
It was during a recent class lesson when I was speaking with my students about Moses and his call from God that I recognized we as humans are created to be grapes, but sometimes act like raisins instead.
Moses, of course, led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land.
Regarded as a hero and one of the most impactful figures in Judaism and Christianity, Moses is admired for his courage and leadership.
And yet, he displayed immense worry and self-doubt when he first encountered God in the form of a burning bush, selected to direct God’s Chosen People out of bondage.
Lacking confidence (Exodus 3:11) and seemingly using his struggle with speech as an excuse to try to convince God not to choose him (Exodus 4:10), Moses adamantly aimed to avoid God’s call for him (Exodus 4:13).
Imagine, someone destined for greatness being so reluctant and unwilling to fulfill his vocation.
So many others in the Bible also expressed hesitation, unworthiness and even refusal when given a divine mission, such as Queen Esther and the prophets Jeremiah and Jonah, to name a few.
A few thousand years later, are we not like this still today?
Created by God to be strong grapes, do we not cower like raisins when called by God to live our best in His image?
When asked a question in class, how many students refuse to raise their hand to offer an answer, dreading any judgment by their peers if they respond incorrectly?
How many of us allow our fear of failure to take hold when presented with an opportunity for a role in a school play, or a spot on a sports team or in a leadership camp?
Or what about turning down a side hallway at the last minute instead of approaching that guy or girl and asking them out on a date because we are afraid of being rejected?
What about those of us who prefer to stay in the status quo rather than apply for a job promotion or go back to school to improve our qualifications?
How many of us decline a chance to travel to a far-off country or volunteer in a group home because of the different culture or environment we would encounter?
God made us to flourish and realize His plan for us, not to flounder by shying away from our full potential.
Because of this, we should never feel inadequate or fearful, believing we do not deserve blessings or opportunities God introduces to us. In truth, God has planned fortune for us since the very beginning, knowing we are worth it. (Jeremiah 1:5)
So no matter our flaws or reservations, let us remember to be secure in our faith, knowing our Lord will always walk at our side. (Matthew 28:20)
Relying on God and believing He leads us at all times, we can rest assured that, even if stretched beyond our comfort zone, God can and will use us as instruments for His ultimate plan of goodness. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Living like this – as the grapes we were intended to be – we will undoubtedly bear great fruit and encourage the same for others.