“We brought some date bread. Would you like a slice?”
So, the conversation began. I was still a little hungry after dinner. The bread looked delicious, but the fruit did not look like dates. It actually looked more like Greek olives so I expected it to be savory. When I smelled the bread however, it smelled sweet and fruity, not salty. I took a taste. The bread was sweet, but not as sweet as I would have expected if it were made with dates. There was a tartness to the fruit that is entirely missing from dates. I said as much: “I think it’s plum.” But even as I said it, I glanced at the slice on my plate again because the visual image of the fruit still did not fit. I decided however, to trust my senses of smell and taste over what my eyesight was perceiving. I became certain it contained plums because that seemed more consistent with my overall sensory experience.
We discussed the bread a bit more as we ate, and then the conversation ended with the fruit mystery unresolved in my mind. I was still curious because my sensory experience did not meet up with what I had been told. Now, the marketer in me might argue that the consumer experience-what my senses took in-did not line up with the brand promise communicated through the bread’s word-of-mouth marketing and product delivery. I really hate when that happens; it kills brands, and it destroys trust and goodwill. I have buried enough brands to know.
As usual, I digress. The bread was delicious, and I love and trust the baker. She is a good friend and has never let me down in the tastiness of her baked goods. I decided to contact her to confirm my suspicions. I mentioned the conversation about the mystery fruit, and I could hear the smile in her response. She said the bread contained cherries.
I was wrong. Imagine that. It happens more frequently than I like to think.
As soon as she said the bread contained cherries, all of the sensory data made sense, except of course for the whole Greek olive visual cue. But then I realized they were dark cherries, not the candied cherries I normally use to bake a favorite Christmas bread. Once I knew the answer, it became so obvious.
But I had to ask myself why cherry was not included in my consideration set during the mystery fruit debate. Was I fatigued? Confused? Were my taste buds and sense of smell just off that evening? Was there a communication issue between those two senses and my brain? Am I starting to lose my sense of smell or taste? Certainly, all of these are possibilities.
I still found it odd that cherries did not come to mind because I probably eat them more frequently than I do dates or plums. Their flavor is certainly more recognizable for me.
How often do we go about thinking we have the correct answer to something without further inquiry or reflection? In the case of the mystery fruit, we each had our own perception based on our sensory and cultural experience, but none of us was able to correctly guess what the baker had used. Our senses did not yield the correct answer, only subjective responses as each tried to discern the fruit used. Granted there are some with highly educated palates who easily would have been able to determine the fruit used, maybe even the region of the world they were grown in, or the specific type of cherry. Human nature being what it is, I am certain there still would be some debate about it.
What happens when we discuss something outside of the natural that cannot be easily concluded based on sensory experience? This often is the case when a conversation drifts to matters of faith and the existence of God. Many would suggest if I were unable to see, touch, smell, hear or taste it, it does not exist.
So, what if I told you that just as the bread had a baker, you have a Creator. And He does exist, both inside and outside of the natural realm, and has for all eternity. Could you trust that statement enough to look into the evidence for yourself? If so, it seems the most obvious course of action would be to pause in the chaos of daily life and reflect on the wonder of that reality. Maybe you could start a conversation that really matters with a friend or family member. Sit for a time with the possibility of God coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to offer a way for mankind to be reconciled with Him and for all of creation to be restored. Go to church this Sunday to celebrate Palm Sunday.
To many, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is simple-minded and naive; they see defeat rather than victory. To those like me who are intellectually curious and who have examined the evidence, belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is both intellectually credible and eminently livable. It always brings hope to this somewhat weary heart, and the faith I have in Christ is a sure and steady anchor for my soul in the face of what tomorrow may bring.
As you reflect on your own beliefs, here are some questions for you: In a world where opinion is determined by the loudest voice, what voices are speaking into your belief system? Is there proof or evidence to support those beliefs? Does the evidence justify your position and is it from a trusted, authoritative source? Are there any beliefs you have simply fell into by default because the pace of life does not allow you the time to think deeply about them?
I pray this Easter season brings you peace and much blessing, no matter where you are on this journey.
By the way, go ahead and try a slice of cherry bread if you can find it. Enjoy its tart sweetness and life’s adventure!
Photo credit: Koval Nadia on istock.com
 For my fellow marketing wannabes: a brand promise is the entirety of what a consumer can expect when they interact with a brand based on the holistic effect of and perceived value created by the marketer’s advertising and promotion, product or service delivery, point of sale, and pricing. A “miss” when delivering on this promise as experienced by the consumer can damage the brand’s reputation and goodwill. It also creates a market opportunity for your competitor.
 A consideration set is the set of brands that come to mind when a consumer thinks of a product or service they want to purchase. For most products or services, a consumer will purchase from their consideration set which is comprised of those brands that they are aware of, know and trust.
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