Sometimes the miracles of God and the way He works in our lives can get lost in the day-to-day activities, unless we slow down and really think about how often the physical paints a picture of the spiritual. Recently, I have had such a picture painted for me.
I might have grown up in a family where canning was common, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to take an interest in learning to preserve foods in this way for my family and friends. One of the first lessons, which seemed to be stressed in every book and video, was to use the very best of produce. Using produce that was bruised or past its better days could cause bacteria to spread and ruin the food being processed.
As I began the journey into canning for the first time, I sorted through my produce and pulled out those pieces which did not meet the quality standards. As I set them aside, I was reminded of how God sees us and who He chooses to work with.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27, we see a vastly different perspective on who God chooses. "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”
As He chooses us in all our flaws; He knows that through His Holy Spirit, He can offer us the opportunity to change. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” God can take you and me, the bruised and the battered, and make us into something miraculously different than we once were. The gift of the Holy Spirit within us, and the work it can do with us, is something we should never take for granted.
My journey into understanding the canning process brought about a feeling of satisfaction I had not expected. Once the fruits or vegetables are processed, placed in jars, and set aside, they should begin to seal. As each one seals, a sound best described as a ping, can be heard. To hear each jar announce its sealing with that little ping is such a satisfying feeling, a reward for all of your hard work. As I listen for the jars to seal, I find myself wondering if that satisfaction is how God feels as He watches each of us go through life and finally reach that point of sealing, that point of no return, that point where He knows we are His and we are never letting go.
How wonderful that must feel to Him. I will admit my first few tries at canning didn’t result in all the jars sealing. I found myself realizing I would have to remove the food in the jars which failed to seal and begin again. As I opened each jar, I would pour the contents into a pot. The fire under the pot would be turned up and the contents would be brought to a boil once again. After the reprocessed fruits or vegetables were brought to a high enough temperature for the right amount of time, jars were once again filled, and I would wait for that satisfying ping.
There are times in our lives when we go through trials, it might seem as if we are being reprocessed. But it is during these trials that we can learn and grow in ways we might not otherwise; although it might not be a pleasant experience for us at the time, it does bring about good fruit. What a beautiful thing it must be for our Father to see us process a trial in a way that honors Him and brings us closer to Him.
In James 1:2-4, we can find comforting words to help guide us through our trials. ”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
While James could stop there, he continues with words of a promise from God we should all remember and claim as our own. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).
God not only gives us the opportunity to learn and grow but promises the wisdom we need to do so in a way that will ensure our success. Only God can take a piece of bruised and battered fruit, process it, change it into something useful and good, and then seal it for all time. What a beautiful picture that paints for all humanity.