Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Worth the Labor ...

When I was a little girl, there was a step stool that sat right beside the counter in my mom's kitchen. I would sit there, swinging my little legs, asking lots of questions, telling lots of stories ... While Mom moved back and forth between the sink, counter and stove. I loved watching my mom cook. Most of the time, she didn't have a recipe book ... it just came .. natural. At the time, I thought it was all in her head ... memorized. Now that I'm a mom, I know the recipe was in her heart ... she knew exactly what each of her family members loved and needed ... that's what she put in each thing she cooked.

Of all the things I watched my mom do in that kitchen, I loved watching her can the most. My parents spent months tending their garden. Taking care of each plant ... knowing the end result would be worth their labor. Each year, just before canning, Mom would sterilize the jars and set them out to dry. Each day, for weeks, she would can something new ... green beans, tomato sauce, pickles, jams, jellies and (my favorite) peaches. It was a long process. Mom's kitchen smelled so good. I wanted to be in there ... be a part of it. There was something special about the way the fruit or vegetables looked in the Ball glass jars.

There was something about the process of canning that brought out the most brilliant colors in each fruit or vegetable. The jars were clear and shiny. Set out side by side all across the counter. Mom filled each one, sealed them and then she carefully set each jar into the canner and waited ... just the right amount of heat, pressure and time. Then, she would take them out and, again, set the jars across the counter ... side by side. Waiting ... waiting for the 'ping'. That sound meant the lid had sealed and the produce inside would remain ... unspoiled. If it didn't 'ping' ... you had to put it back in the canner, more heat and then wait again. Sometimes, one of the jars just wouldn't 'ping' and she would empty the jar and start over. There was nothing wrong with the jar, it was still good. It just needed ... another try.

Last week, Mom gave me a jar of her sweet peaches. I had two empty jars sitting on my window sill ... empty from the week before when I used jars of her green beans to add a finishing touch on the meal I made for my family. The sun shining through those clear, empty jars ... contrasting against the jar filled with peaches ...
We're like those empty glass jars. We may be beautiful but we are nothing without Him. Jesus tends the garden of our lives. He takes special care in filling us with beauty ... a beauty only He can provide. Like my mom preparing meals, He doesn't need a recipe ... We are etched on His heart, he knows exactly what we need. It's not a short process. Inner beauty ... beauty that shines through ... it takes time. But, it's worth it. And, He doesn't give up. He will stick with us as long as it takes. The pressure in my mom's canner is kind of like the trials in our lives. They are painful and weigh us down. Heavy burdens. But, those trials bring us closer to Him ... in a way ... they make the bond between us and Him stronger. So that nothing can spoil what He has given us inside ... Him.
1st Peter 3:3-4 "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."

Matthew 5:14-15 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."

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