The late Charles M. Schulz famously once said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. “
I believe that I am in good company when I declare my great affection for chocolate. Admittedly, it is my weakness, which is why I try not to keep it in the house – much to my family’s dismay. However, we decided to take the kids to a local chocolate factory on Friday after school for a little family fun time. It was fascinating to watch the chocolate making in action all the way from a cacao bean into something sweet and edible. It what might seem quite odd, I also saw the reflection of God through chocolate, of all things. Of course, it’s not hard to see God in everything – even chocolate.
1. Most of us already know that chocolate comes from the cacao bean. I had never tasted one of these until our factory tour but had heard that it was bitter. My poor son stuck the whole thing in his mouth and began to chew before quickly realizing that it was not a tasty treat. The cacao bean was in fact so bitter that just a tiny bit left a horrible aftertaste in my mouth. I imagine the bitter taste of the cacao bean as my heart before Jesus Christ. Hard. Bitter. Undesirable. However, we know that God can take anything and make it good – even my hard heart.
2. Next, the chocolate has to go through a complex process to become exactly what it was created to be. In the same way, God refines our hard sinful hearts to be more like Him. Sometimes the process is beautiful. Sometimes the process is hard. But the emphasis is on the process. God uses all things – good and bad – to make delicious sweetness out of our lives. So let’s think about that as we follow our cacao bean through its own process:
- First the cacao bean is sifted to weed out dirt, rocks, leaves, and other foreign objects. God does the same with us – he strips away all that is not of Him.
- The beans are then roasted which makes the beans more flavorful and helps to dry the bean. Have you ever heard someone say that they have been through the fire? It’s an expression to mean that they have endured something challenging in their lives. However, God often uses these challenges and turns them into something good. As the beans get roasted, they are becoming more flavorful and more desirable. God often uses these hard things to grow our character, our faith, or draw us closer to Him.
- Next, the cacao beans are cracked open like a peanut to leave the edible part inside. This one is simple. God cares about our inside – our heart. Although we are to take good care of our bodies because, like the shells, they protect us and keep us healthy, all that it really comes down to is our inside – if we have a relationship with Jesus.
- After that, the beans are crushed and ground into a thick paste. Without him, our hearts are broken. He is the one who gives life (and gives it more abundantly) and who takes those broken pieces and molds them into something that is even sweeter.
- Finally, the Chocolatier (the person who makes chocolate) begins adding all sorts of ingredients to the chocolate to make it sweet. Remember, without God our hearts are just a sinful mess. He is the one who brings all of the goodness to our hard hearts. He is the one who gives us everything to make life sweeter and because of His sweetness the goodness flows out of us.
3. Lastly, cacao beans are not only made into just one kind of chocolate. The Chocolatier can use different ingredients to make all different kinds of chocolate – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel chocolate, sweet and salty chocolate, and the list goes on and on (can you tell that we had fun on our sampling part of the tour?)! God creates each of us so differently yet so deliciously. He not only makes us different on the outside but he gives us each different gifts, talents, and uses us all in different ways in his kingdom. The world sure is a more fun place with different kinds of chocolate – and people!
God is like the Master Chocolatier. Because of Jesus Christ, our lives become something even better than we could ever imagine- not a bitter cacao bean but a delicious chocolate in his kingdom. Bon Appétit!