A Conversation With Celery

No matter how you try to dress up a piece of celery, it’s just plain boring.  You could fill it with caviar and garnish it with gold, but anybody with an I.Q. greater than an amoeba  could see through the disguise.  When you pick up a limp piece of celery, it flops over like an arthritic old man on a rainy Monday morning. Celery is depressing; it’s the Eeyore of vegetables.

The other day I was speaking with someone who reminded me of celery.  I was fighting to pay attention, but all I could imagine was a limp piece of celery with hair and a face.  When it was my turn to respond, I was suddenly in an episode of Veggie Tales, and I had to refrain myself from bursting into a rousing rendition of  “The Dance of the Cucumber.”  On the drive home, it dawned on me that one of my primary duties as a parent is to ensure that my children develop personalities greater than a stalk of celery.

Of all the interesting personalities in the Bible, David is my favorite.  Maybe that’s because he was a “man after God’s own heart,” which would certainly add flavor to anyone’s personality.  David was the life of the party, a man who could play the harp, fight off giants, and run a kingdom in his spare time.

When Samuel had to select the next king over Israel, he invited Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice to choose the Lord’s anointed one.  One by one, Jesse’s sons walked the runway, but Samuel couldn’t find the right guy.  I love the fact that David wasn’t there.  He was off tending the sheep, so Samuel had to send for him.  Casual and unassuming, ruddy and handsome, David showed up late to the party and made his appearance all the more dramatic.  A green pepper in the midst of celery.

DAVID: (humming) La la la la la…huh? Hey, everybody!  What are you doing here?  (Samuel pours oil over his head) Whoa!

SAMUEL:  I anoint you in the name of the Lord.  The power of the Lord is now upon you.

DAVID:  Cool!  Let’s go kill some giants!

David had the X factor, and he even played the harp.  That’s kind of like that moment on American Idol when you love someone’s voice, and then one week they suddenly whip out a guitar and show a whole new talent.  Saul had an evil spirit tormenting him, and his attendants knew that music would heal his soul.  I can only imagine the initial suggestions.

ATTENDANT 1:  I’m learning how to play the pan flute.

ATTENDANT 2:  My four-year-old can play the glockenspiel.

SAUL:  You’re both fired.  Anyone else have a less idiotic suggestion?

1 Samuel 16:18

One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp.  He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man.  And the LORD is with him.” 

From this one suggestion, we learn many great qualities of David.  He was so likeable that Saul chose him to be one of his armor-bearers.  When Goliath, the Philistine giant, was terrorizing the Israelites, David was the only one willing to fight him.  Goliath had a little too much personality; he was more like a jalapeño pepper.  Sure, anyone could have killed Goliath with a 12-gauge shotgun.  David did it with a stone and a sling.  One shot to the forehead. Goodbye.  Apparently just killing Goliath was too ordinary, so David sliced off his head and carried it around with him for a while.  Maybe used it in a ventriloquist act.

My favorite “David moment” is when he returned with the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6:14

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might.

David made this move popular way before Tom Cruise danced in his underwear.  But his wife Michal was disgusted by his public display of unbridled joy.  David’s response shows the origin of his zeal.

2 Samuel 6:21

It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel –

I will celebrate before the LORD.

David had such a fervor for God that it bubbled up and boiled over into an ebullient display of elation.  His love was not hindered by ritualistic worship or a phony display of passion for the Lord.  He did not have to try too hard to be funny or interesting; his personality evolved from genuine love and enthusiasm.

The other night my kids were getting ready for bed when a song on the radio made them start to dance.

“Hey, this song is about JESUS!” my four-year-old announced.

Throwing hands up in the air and dancing around the room in their underwear,  they had no idea how silly they looked, nor did they care.  It had been a rough day, the kind where I second-guessed my abilities as a parent.  But as I watched their spontaneous, uninhibited dance of joy, I thought of David’s celebration and smiled.

Somewhere in between celery and a jalapeño is all I ask.

Insurance for Job

After dealing with various insurance agents all week, I have now come to the conclusion that we should just sell all of our belongings and go live in a tent on a deserted island.  Apparently there are 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the South Pacific, and that’s only because some poor guy got tired of counting.  We could just pick an uninhabited island and show up, although we might land on shore only to be greeted by the Aflac duck, seeking to insure us from the hazards of falling coconuts.

Insurance agents are always concerned about risks, but they never seem to be too worried about the fact that I have three young kids, including two boys who make a team more formidable than a cyclone.  I risk my life every time I turn a corner in our house and delve into an unknown landmine field of toys.

Just last night I was cooking dinner at the stove, when I stepped back onto my four-year-old’s train set.  Even while I feared for my life, I was briefly impressed that PlaySkool trains have even better velocity than Amtrak.  Then again, Amtrak trains don’t rappel you towards the top of a flight of stairs while holding a scalding pot of meatball soup.

Insurance agents are far too worried about an ACT OF GOD, when they should be  more concerned with an ACT OF CHILD.  They are more anxious about the improbability of a random asteroid hitting my house than they are with the very real probability that I could break my leg on a Matchbox car at any moment.

People who lived during biblical times did not have to worry about insurance.  No premiums, no deductibles, no claims.  We know this because there’s no way they would have let Mary, a nine-month pregnant woman, ride on a donkey.

I can just hear the insurance agent harassing Noah for attempting to build the ark.

AGENT:  Let me get this straight; it’s going to rain for forty days and nights, and you have no flood insurance?  You’re in a flood zone, for crying out loud.

NOAH:  Actually, the whole earth is a flood zone right now.

AGENT:  You realize you won’t be able to file a claim when this is all over.

NOAH:  When this is over, you won’t be able to file a claim either.

AGENT:  What’s that supposed to mean?

NOAH:  Oh, nothing.  Was that a raindrop?  Gotta go!

And how about David, about to attack Goliath without any personal liability insurance?

AGENT:  You’re going to attack HIM?  You could get sued!  A crazy guy like that could totally lose his head.

DAVID:  Hey, now there’s an idea…

Then there are some people, like Job, who just seem uninsurable.

Job was a righteous man who once had it all.  He had a huge number of servants and livestock.  His house could have been destroyed by the thousands of sheep and oxen, but he also had ten children, including seven boys.  Not even State Farm would have been there for Job.  Especially not after Satan started inflicting one disaster after another, causing Job to lose his family, his house, and his health.

During this time, Job’s three “friends” came to commiserate and offer their sage advice.  Unfortunately, their advice was about as useful as an umbrella in a hurricane.

Bummer, Job.  Guess you should have bought that insurance after all, hahaha.

The only one who was really there for Job through it all was God.

Job 42:10,12

the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had  before…The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.

Excuse me?  Who would take a chance on someone who has already lost everything?

That’s exactly what God did when He decided to sacrifice His son for us.  He gave us free will, knowing the risks involved with our human nature.  Being omniscient, God saw the potential for disaster and wisely set up the very first insurance policy of his own.  Even if everything possible went wrong and every person in the world gave up on us, God has already purchased us through the blood of Jesus Christ.  A true umbrella policy.

Yesterday my four-year-old came to me looking for the “big scissors.”  I didn’t want him to get hurt, so I refused, but he persisted until he wore me down.  After being reminded  never to run with scissors, he agreed and then promptly ran up the stairs, sharp scissors in hand.  In an instant I saw what we must all look like to God.  A bunch of children running with scissors and constantly putting ourselves at risk.

Thankfully, the same God who insured the uninsurable Job has got us all covered.