I have been learning about canning, most of which has been done since I retired from my law practice. It has been great fun to prepare food, process it and then enjoy it later on down the road. I don’t have shelves and shelves of “canned food” but I am enjoying getting into the swing of home preserving food by canning.
However, I really had no idea how much work and thought went into the preparation and preservation of food, and my poor husband had no idea how many times I would hand him a spoonful of something and ask for a taste test!
I have been doing jams, apple butter, relishes, etc., but I ventured into something new last week, I prepared pickles. I read up on several recipes that sounded good and selected “Pickled Yellow Squash” and “Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles”. Both recipes had rave reviews and they were not the ordinary cuke dill pickles that neither of us favored.
When we tasted the finished product, I was glad that I decided to make them.
I found it interesting that both of the squashes were of mild flavor on their own but then, after being subjected to vinegar, spices and sugar, their taste exploded. However, they were not ready to be preserved at that point – we had to subject them to heat, both by boiling them in the vinegar solution and then by placing them in hot jars and putting the sealed jars in a water bath canner for the specified processing time.
What began as soft-flavored veggies that would spoil within days turned into pickles that were both tangy and sweet and which offered a great-tasting condiment that would last for a year (unless eaten first, of course!). While we don’t personally care for dill/sour pickles, even those are the result of the mild-flavored cucumber going through the pickling process, with the resulting explosion of flavor and crunch!
As Christians, we will have times of testing, times when we may feel that we are in the crucible with a boiling tempest swirling around us, and sometimes it even involves people or circumstances that produce a pungent odor to our senses. We should not be surprised when these difficulties or challenges come.
Testing and trials are guaranteed if we are children of God. In the Old Testament, we know that God used such trial to humble His people and to test them. See, for example, Deuteronomy 8:12 where we read:
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
In Luke 8:13 we find Jesus’ parable of the soils and He describes the seed that falls on the rocky soil as follows:
And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
Then we find this incredible, counter-cultural, admonition in the Book of James:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
The Christian life is not one of ease and one that is free of hardship or persecution. Rather, we are to meet difficulties with joy because we know that the process we are experiencing is working toward our transformation into having the character of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
2 Corinthians 2:14-15
So, be a pickle for our Lord. Expect the pickling process to be difficult, to be hot, to be smelly and sometimes downright unpleasant, but know also that you are being transformed into a fragrant aroma for our Lord, and your preservation will continue throughout this life and into all eternity.
Father, thank You for your Word and for the promise that You are with us during testing and trials, during difficulties and persecution, and that nothing will be done that is outside Your control, and further that nothing will operate in any way other than for our good through Your providence and Your will.