Have you ever had a ripe(1) persimmon on a crisp day in October? I’m sad to say, despite priding myself on a broad palate and a love of eating locally and seasonally, it’s something I’ve only recently discovered. This is my seventh autumn in Italy and every year right around this time I see the “cachi” start to show up in the markets and every year I think I should buy a few and figure out what to do with them and every year I let the fall pass without actually following through.
A few weeks ago the missions pastor from our sending church was passing through Europe and was able to make a little time to hang out with us in Bologna. As we walked the thousand year old streets of the city center he couldn’t help but notice the persimmons in every window and asked if I liked them. Almost embarrassed, I had to admit I couldn’t really remember if I had ever tried one. He was flabbergasted. “We have to get some. You have to taste them. Tonight.”(2)
And so we did.
And so began my love of, nay, obsession with persimmons.
A ripe persimmon is sweet, but not too sweet, with a texture that resembles a peach. The flavor is incredibly familiar but completely unique in the fruit world. It tastes like nutmeg and cinnamon and vanilla, which is too say it tastes like a perfect fall day.
Here’s the thing, I have been told all of that in so many words 100 times.(3) Heck, my missions pastor told me that just three weeks ago. But until I experienced eating the perfect persimmon while looking at the changing colors of fall I never could comprehend it. Those of you that have never eaten one, you can read my description, think about how good it sounds and tell yourself that you really need to try one but until you actually experience what it’s like to taste the juicy, custardy, spiced-sweetness of a persimmon you will never truly know what it’s like.
We are told the same thing about our relationship with God. David (4) tells us in Psalms 34 that we must “taste and see that God is good.” The words he uses are words of invitation to a personal experience. It’s the only way to know that God is good. I can tell you all day long about the greatness of God. I can tell you that you are loved, more fully and profoundly than we can ever imagine, by the Creator of the universe and I can tell you that you can have a real relationship with Him. But until you experience it for yourself you will never understand what I’m talking about.
While these words are universally applicable, the group of people I had in mind as I wrote them are already spending most of their Sunday mornings in a church pew.(5) You see, it’s not the person lost in the wilderness that needs to be told they are missing something, it’s the person that has every option in the world. So many people in the church have subsisted their entire lives on a spiritual diet of chicken fingers and cheese quesadillas because it’s easy, convenient and infinitely palatable. They don’t know what they’re missing because they have exactly what they think they want. Until they are willing to submit themselves to the experience of a persimmon in fall they will never know. Until we are willing to submit ourselves, completely and without reservation, to a relationship with God, we will never truly comprehend His love for us.
My invitation to you, to all of you, taste and see that God is good. It’s the only way to know.
(1) A ripe persimmon should be slightly soft but not too mushy, kind of like a firm tomato.
(3) Perhaps and exaggeration, but I stand by the premise.
(4) No relation.
(5) PLOT TWIST!