ARE YOU WILLING TO BE A PICKLE FOR OUR LORD?

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.

Pickles
The summer squash was sliced in the round while the zucchini was sliced in ribbons, to lay flat on sandwiches.

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 youtesting 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

James 1:2-3

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.

BE PREPARED!

Even as I write this post, winter storm Jonas is still pummeling the New England coast with rain, sleet, heavy snow and pelting winds although it has now pretty much finished its work in the southern United States. We knew it was coming … all week long we were told by the weather forecasters that a monster storm was brewing and it would bring drenching rains for days on end in the south and snow that could be measured in feet, not inches, farther north and along the eastern coastline.

People were warned to be prepared. Of course, in our area, we are told that there is a 10% chance of snow and, within an hour, the stores are out of bread and milk. So, with a 100% chance of snow predicted, my husband went to a convenience store to pick up a gallon of milk, fully expecting that there would be none. However, he found that there was a healthy supply of both milk and bread. He expressed his surprise to the cashier and was told “you need to look at the shelves where the beer is usually found!” Apparently, for some folks, beer is more important to have on hand during a snow storm than milk and bread, if you are expecting to be in the house for a number of days.

Wood for stove
Wood sitting by the fireplace ready to be used when needed.

 

Preparation is important. At the house, we have firewood stacked outside and an immediate supply next to the fireplace.

Wood stove fire
The fire in the wood stove insert in the fireplace. The ceramic cow is for added humidity and the fans on each side start spinning when the heat from the fire is built up.

 

The fireplace has an insert that makes it a wood burning stove, so when the temperature started falling, my husband built a fire and we were toasty warm … hot in fact, the room was 82 degrees at one point! But we were prepared.   If power goes out, we can cook on the top of the stove.  We had the food we needed, the heat we needed, everyone was inside, and all was well.

Snow - Bird feeder
Backyard bird feeder covered in snow.

 

Although the snow did not materialize in any significant amount at our house, it did in surrounding areas. For us, it was just enough to make the neighborhood pretty. There is something so serene and still when snow is falling.

 

Snow - front yard
Front yard with snow blanket, serene and white.

 

Even the canine members of the family were prepared. We put their yellow slickers on them and turned them loose in the backyard. They loved to run and sniff the snow, in fact, Snickers tried to catch the flakes with her mouth.

The video is of the two of them in the back yard – wait for the first 8 seconds and then you will see the two yellow streaks pass by the field of view! I hope it brings a smile to your face.

 

Preparation. People prepared for several days to be ready to withstand any difficulties that may arise in this storm. We prepare for a great many things … academic tests, surprise celebrations for loved ones, the potential of a new baby, transfer to a new job, moving to a new community, company coming for dinner … yes, we prepare for many things.

 

The question is whether we have prepared for the ultimately important thing … where we will spend eternity.

 

In the Old Testament, King Belshazzar decided to give a feast for one thousand of his lords and officials. You can read about this extravaganza in Daniel chapter 5. While they were reveling and using the vessels from the Lord’s House to drink their wine, the king was rightly disturbed when he saw a hand writing on the wall of the palace. Ultimately, the Lord’s prophet Daniel was called to interpret the writing.

 

“And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Daniel 5:25-31 [ESV]

 

Belshazzar believed himself to be above reproach – he was king and nothing could harm him. Certainly not anything that would arise during his festival! He forgot that God was responsible for his position and that God could snuff out his life, literally, in a heartbeat. In short, he ran out of time to prepare to meet God.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus tells a parable of the rich man who had so much bounty from his farm that he didn’t know what to do. So he built larger barns to store his grain and his goods. Then he said:

“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'”

Luke 12:19-20 [ESV]

 

The man in Jesus’ parable ran out of time to prepare to meet God and, based on God’s referring to him as “Fool,” it would appear that he was not ready. He had placed so much emphasis on his personal abilities that he gave himself all credit and left nothing to God. In this case, his eternal destiny was decided by his own foolish refusal to acknowledge his need for God. In short, he ran out of time to prepare to meet God.

 

Preparation. Scripture says that preparation for our eternal salvation is simple and yet profound.

“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Romans 10:9-10 [ESV]

 

Are you prepared? Where will you spend eternity?  Now is the time of salvation!

 

Father, thank you for your provision of salvation and for the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit and for the work of the Spirit in prompting your children to come to you. I pray that you would use my life as a witness for you, and that these few words would be used by your Spirit to prompt people to search your word and so come to a realization of the saving work of our Lord on their behalf.