“Mommy, will you tie my shoe please?”
I set my glass down on the table and tied the shoe as requested. His little face grinned up at me and then he ran off to play. I turned back to the table to pick up my drink. About halfway to picking it up I stopped. I looked down and realized I’d put my glass right next to my husband’s. Normally, I wouldn’t care, except today we were drinking tea. His was sweet. Mine was not. I looked them over carefully. Each had the same amount of ice, and was filled to the same level in the glass. Taking a guess, I chose one. I barely had the sip in my mouth before I knew I’d picked his up. For those of you who may not have had true Southern Sweet Tea, let me explain; this is not the same stuff you buy from the store. This tea needs to be consumed within days of brewing it. If you don’t, it begins to ferment from the sugar in it. My husband’s homemade iced tea is high-octane. We go through sugar by the pound in our house, and it isn’t because I bake a lot. It’s because, TEA. If you’ve not been raised on this sugary goodness, it can take some getting used to. A full, unprepared gulp of it can be enough to turn people off entirely. However, once you’ve gained a taste for it, it truly is difficult to go back to regular unsweetened.
I had to laugh that something that was so incredibly similar in looks could be so intensely different when you went just beyond the appearance. It shouldn’t shock me. How many times have we all heard the phrase, ‘appearances can be deceiving’? It did make me reflect, however, on how the addition of one simple ingredient can make such a difference to the makeup of a drink, or in other instances, a person.
The sweetness of sugar makes the taste of tea bolder. It makes it richer and livelier, while letting the outward appearance remain untouched.
God is like sweet tea. He changes people, but not in appearance. This one, simple ingredient sweetens them, makes them kinder, softer, more welcoming. It emboldens them, makes them full of life. Sometimes it comes as a surprise to others; people who are accustomed to the ordinary, un-sweet, calloused, and weary world that we live in. In large, unexpected doses, it can be uncomfortable. It can even turn people off entirely, particularly if they’ve interacted with someone who may be a little stagnant. Because if God is the sugar, people are the tea. If we are left to sit too long without sharing the goodness we’ve been given, we run the risk of growing bitter. Our message sours, our purpose falters, our witness withers. And those people we come in contact with are left with a bad taste in their mouths.
But. (isn’t there always a but?)
If you are fortunate enough to gain a fresh taste of the real thing, you may find yourself looking for another sip. Just another taste of that fullness; craving a little more of life with that sweetness. And then before you know it, you’re bolder, kinder, sweeter yourself; unmistakably the real thing.
My prayer for you today is that you be bold. That you not wait to share the goodness of the full life inside of you. Don’t let your message sour. Be brave enough to take a step forward, to reach out and to be the sweet that someone around you is seeking today. Our world is thirsty for it.