Coconuts

each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (1 Corinthians 3:13 ESV)

I never liked coconuts. Growing up I could taste coconut buried in almost any mixture of food. It made my taste buds scream in disgust. I could always discover the secret ingredient no matter how hard the cook tried to cover the flavor with other ingredients.

On Guam coconuts were everywhere. We removed the trees from our yard so the heavy seeds wouldn’t whack our children on the head. A ten pound coconut does considerable damage when falling thirty feet onto a child’s head. This is another reason to dislike coconut.

Then while visiting Pohnpei I enjoyed cool fresh coconut milk. A native man climbed the tree, lopped off the coconut so it fell to the ground. After he climbed down he then whacked off the top with his machete and offered it as a refreshing drink. I’m not sure whether it really tasted good or I was that thirsty. I’m still not convinced it is a viable food source.

I once saw a coconut in a U.S. grocery store. It was a brown round furry hard seed. When I experienced a whole coconut on Guam, I discovered it’s originally packed in a strong green fiber covering. Getting the cover off is much more difficult than opening the seed. Still, this is another reason to leave coconuts on the tree.

My family, on the other hand, loves coconut. In elementary school Ellice and Joel learned how to make coconut candy. They claim it’s a sweet and delicious treat. I’m not convinced. Since they ate everything on the way home from school, they had nothing to offer as proof of their wild claims.

It sounds like a simple process to make coconut candy. First you take a machete, the size of my young son, and whack the top off the coconut and split the seed. A good islander can open a coconut in seconds. I tried opening only the seed once. Hours later, after using a drill, a saw and an axe, I finally had a small hole in the tough seed.

Next you scrape the white meat out of the seed using a small stool with a dangerous looking projection on the front. Sit on the stool, twirl the seed around the sharp pointed thing and watch the white meat fall into the bowl on the ground. This is a skill everyone should learn. Why, because some people actually like coconut.

Finally you boil the meat in a pot over a wood flame; mix in some other stuff and then you have hot, supposedly delicious, candy. My children like it. My wife likes it. I suppose there is no accounting for taste. Given a choice, I wouldn’t choose a coconut.

It’s also difficult to understand why God would choose me to be one of his children. Like a coconut I have a strong fiber husk surrounding a hard internal seed. It just isn’t easy to get inside. But God has whacked away the husk and lopped off the top of the seed to work with the valuable meat inside.

He scrapes out the essential parts, boils it in the fire of his Holy Spirit and produces something good. I don’t understand it but I’m thankful He’s a good cook. If a coconut had feelings, I’m sure it wouldn’t enjoy the process of being made into candy.

We don’t enjoy the process as God works in our lives to turn us into useful children. He breaks us open, scrapes out the good and discards the useless. When He has cooked us just long enough we become useful instruments, valuable sweets in His hands. I still don’t like coconut.

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