What do you do with zucchini?
Do you hurry past the bin of dark green vegetables at the grocery store, making sure you look the other direction so you won’t feel guilt leaving the squash there? Do you close your blinds when you see your neighbor emerge from her house and head your way with a sack of suspicious contents in her hand? Or do you grow a garden full of the long green cylinders, happy to welcome them into your kitchen just as you welcome the sunshine of summer?
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the green vegetable for quite some time. For years I never knew what to do with squash. I’d stir-fried pieces chopped along with other vegetables and enjoyed the mixture over rice. Then someone gave me a “bread” recipe using zucchini as part of the ingredients. Both my husband and I loved that. I picked up other recipes as well—zucchini lasagna, pickles, and cookies. But there never seemed to be as many recipes to use all the zucchini as there was zucchini to use. My kitchen would “runneth” over, if you get my meaning.
Early in my marriage I had a friend who claimed to love zucchini with a passion. She planted ten hills of the seeds one spring so she wouldn’t run short. After two weeks into harvesting she admitted that she couldn’t keep up. “It’s scary out there,” she said of her garden. Zucchini had taken over, vines grew over vines, oversized zucchini hid like alligators among the leaves. She probably wondered why her friends suddenly made a million excuses that they couldn’t spend time with her the month of August. When the property sold a few years later, I could only imagine the new owners’ astonished faces every spring when zucchini sprouts volunteered all over the yard. I could almost hear them asking, “Where did all this zucchini come from?”
A couple of weeks ago I attended a potluck luncheon with some of my writer friends. One of the guests brought a pasta salad with chopped vegetables—yes, zucchini—marinated in a vinaigrette dressing. I mentioned to her that I always admired people who had recipes using zucchini. She told me she had a pie recipe that she made with zucchini that tasted just like apple pie. I was skeptical, but asked for the recipe.
When it arrived via e-mail I made the dessert and served it to my husband, son and neighbor. They raved about it. My son, who doesn’t like apple pie in the first place, asked for a second piece. My husband, who has a picky palate and can tell by tasting whether I’ve purchased discount store peanut butter or one of the national brands, ate the pie with gusto. My neighbor, who had supplied the zucchini, said that was the best apple pie he’d enjoyed in a long time.
I kept my secret for at least an hour, but I couldn’t help myself from telling them the truth about what they’d eaten. None of them believed me, but when I made a second pie later that week since I had plenty of the vegetable that keeps on giving, they assured me that they really liked it even if it was zucchini.
I’ve always been amazed at how much food our earth can grow. One tiny seed can make a vine that can feed squash or beans to a dozen people. A tomato seed can grow into a plant that produces a five gallon bucket of the fruit. A corn seed can push up a stalk that can yield two or three ears of corn, each cob holding the equivalent of a hundred seeds.
God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that the people He instructed to be “fruitful and multiply” would need seeds that would do the same in order to feed their families. In the book of Luke He draws a parallel between the man who sows the seed and the person who shares news of God’s kingdom with others.
The gardener knows that some seed will fall on rocky soil and be eaten by birds. Likewise many who share the Good News of God’s Son will find those that have no interest, their spirits hardened, their minds closed. The gardener knows other seed will hit soil that lacks nutrients and the vines will sprout only to wither and die. So it is with people who hear the teachings of the Scripture, but lack the tenacity to act on what they’ve learned.
Discouragement would surely befall the gardener were it not for the seed that finds fertile soil, takes root, grows and produces a bountiful crop. Every person who makes a decision for Christ is one of those who found fertile ground and thrived.
As His people, we should be like the zucchini—sending down our roots into the fertile soil of His Word, letting our spirits grow up like tender young shoots reaching for the sun, and sharing our faith with others just as plants yield their fruits.
Think how we could change the world if we gave some of the love we have received to every person we touch, just like the zucchini vine makes a fruit for every table. How many loaves of God’s truth bread could we make? How many slices of God’s love pie could we serve? The world would receive an overabundance of love from a God who, like the zucchini, never stops giving.