Imperfect Vegetables

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "At The Cross"1 (Lyrics)

This time of the year reminds me of the weeks when my husband and I volunteered at North Okanagan Valley Gleaners, a non-profit organization near Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. We spent our mornings cutting vegetables into chunks to be put through a dicer, then dehydrated, bagged, and made into soup mix. Farmers drop off their surplus produce, and volunteers do the chopping.

Often, the donated vegetables are not just surplus but are not fit for the market. Potatoes are misshapen and lumpy, perhaps touched by frost and mushy in spots. Carrots are not straight and uniformly thick, but spiral around each other, as if they were wrapped in a hug. Cabbages are gigantic, and need a cleaver and a steady hand to deal with them. Soft and mouldy spots in vegetables have to be cut out.

The vegetables are considered substandard by their looks, but the finished product is fantastic! Needy people around the world are more than grateful to receive bags of soup mix, made from a variety of vegetables. Photos show the recipients and their children with big smiles, hugging the bags of mix to themselves. You wouldn't think that the finished product came from such humble beginnings.

The Bible speaks of God choosing what seemed imperfect for His purposes.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (NLT)

Samuel had been asked to anoint one of the sons of Jesse, as God was selecting one of them to be king, in place of Saul. God's choice was not at all what the onlookers expected. God saw what young David would become, whereas his brothers saw David only as their kid brother, youngest of the family, whose occupation was merely looking after the sheep. Although as king, David later became involved in major sin, yet because of his repentant heart, God said, "I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart." (Acts 13:22b NLT)

We are like those flawed vegetables, rejected for the market. We all have our foibles and defects, our weak points and idiosyncrasies. But God chooses imperfect people, sometimes because of their imperfections. Our usefulness to God doesn't depend on our strengths, but on our dependence on Him.

2 Corinthians 12:9a – [God] said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." (NLT)

Just like the nourishing, life-giving soup mix, our uniqueness and hidden talents become amazing when God empowers them. He chooses us despite our wrinkles, different shapes, blemishes, and character flaws.

Let's not feel rejected and useless to God. Never let us think that we're not fit for God's purposes, but rather be available to be used as He sees fit.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You don't choose us according to what is visible to people. Thank You that You see our hearts and how we can be useful for Your kingdom. Thank You for using us, even when we doubt ourselves and our abilities. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Alice Burnett <>
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    Big amen sister!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Alice.

    Thank you, Alice for such an inspiring devotion.

    Beauty of The Creator! Thank you, Alice. Blessings.

    Great reminder for us all, thanks and blessings, Alice!

    So very encouraging and motivating!! Thank you so much Alice.

    Thank you, Alice. It’s amazing how God can use our flawed selves!

    Thanks for your message today, Alice. I needed to hear that! Blessings.

    O WOW, Alice! Sure helps me today. Thanks for such good writing and wonderful topic.

    Dear Alice,
    Just a quick note, Smithville Ontario has a Gleaners also — busy, busy volunteers.

    As one imperfect follower of Jesus Christ to another, thank you for this encouraging message! Blessings.

    Wonderful devotion Alice!
    So nice to read this morning, and very encouraging.
    Have a great day!

    Great analogy of how God uses us, warts, and all, to share good news with a hungry world. I have a funny feeling that your story just might end up in a few sermons, including mine. Of course, I will note the author. Thanks so much!

    Hi Alice
    What a wonderful analogy. I’m a retired pastor in BC. I need to check out the Gleaners work and maybe get involved.

    Hello Alice,
    I found your message for today quite meaningful, especially your similes in comparing us “to vegetables and to life-giving soup.”

    Thank you for a very inspirational and motivating devotional. This is the first time I have heard of such a project that uses imperfect vegetables, but I hope this still is in operation for there will always be a need just like there are always imperfections in people.

    Thank you. I’ve just made a big batch of soup using the veggies that might not do well in my cold storage. Our Manitoba fall has been unusually warm, and my counter is covered with canned tomatoes. I rarely think a vegetable isn’t worth something – different uses. Just like people. All God’s gifts. Enjoy this day.

    Amen Alice.
    Thank you for this interesting devotional that taught me about the use of these imperfect vegetables being turned into dry soup mix, something l did not know. What a wonderful, life-giving way to use them. Bravo to the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners!

    What a great DD! Each part of your analogy comes together to make a nourishing start to the day!
    I’m so interested that you were involved with the Gleaners, a friend told me she was also, some time ago! Praying that it continues now in this time of great need!
    Bless your light shining during these dark days!

    Oh Alice, thanks for the reminder that “like the nourishing, life-giving soup mix, our uniqueness and hidden talents become amazing when God empowers them. He chooses us despite our wrinkles, different shapes, blemishes, and character flaws.”
    I LOVE this!!
    How encouraging that He can and still will use us (despite of who we are- flaws and all)!

    Greetings Alice,
    Very meaningful devotional you have written which emphasizes how God sees great things in us even though our outer physical appearance may have deficiencies We can do God’s work in so many different ways here on earth and working at Gleaners is one of the important deeds for sure, as it helps supply adequate nourishment to many who struggle for food for their families. Blessings for these attentive writings you submit.

    Hi Alice,
    By the end of the first paragraph of today’s devotional, I guessed that you were the writer. You have so many good stories about interesting ways you and your husband have served God over the years.
    I liked the way you used the imperfect veggies to illustrate how God can use us despite our flaws and bruises – always a helpful and encouraging message. Thank you. We have friends who are Gleaners in Leamington. They too help in the soup making process.
    I hope you and your family are all staying well. Our province seems to be opening up quickly now. I hope it’s not too soon.

    Good morning, Alice,
    A lovely way to start my day reading your devotional about “imperfection”. I had no idea that people were wise enough to take the rejected, leftover vegetables and that the farmers would take the time to deliver them and make them into dried soup mix. Let me not forget to mention the value of the volunteers. I know that some supermarkets are now selling “imperfect” ones which is also an improvement.
    Then you take this great idea and blend it with God’s use of us “imperfect” believers. “Our usefulness to God doesn’t depend on our strengths, but on our dependence on Him.”
    Thank you for the great reminder that God does not demand “perfection” but just our trust and faith. He knows our heart. A beautiful prayer.

    What an encouraging devotional, to see that God has his purpose for us, no matter our physical attributes. What peace that brings. Thank you so much for the blessing of peace that your devotional has brought to me, and to others.

    Thanks for the encouraging reminder.

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