My family plants a garden every year. Although it is a lot of work, we think the fresh vegetables and fruits are so much better than what is bought in the store. I usually try to can and freeze whatever I can. One year we had so many green beans, that I opened a jar and served them almost every Sunday for over a year. I usually freeze corn and squash. I also make a lot of jelly from the fruit we grow. Our plum trees were especially plentiful this year. I also use figs, blackberries and muscadines to make jelly. The only thing about jelly is that it takes a lot of sugar. I also have persimmons that I mash and freeze for persimmon pudding.
We were talking the other night about how much work goes into dealing with all the produce. If we would sit down and add up all the cost, it probably is much more costly to grow and preserve the produce instead of just buying prepared foods at a grocery store. However, the quality and taste I think is better with home grown food. Knowing how much it costs monetarily and the physical work involved contributes to the appreciation we have for the food.
When I get ready to prepare the food for canning, I pick out the best. Beans have to be checked for bug bites; bad spots on fruit has to be cut away; some kernels on the ears of corn are not filled out completely so the good kernels are cut off and the rest of the cob thrown away. Depending on what I am working on, I may use a pressure canner for raw vegetables, or cook the food before it is put into containers to freeze. Fruit for jelly is peeled or chopped up, cooked, strained and then boiled with pectin and sugar before putting into jars to seal. Each process is done carefully so that the best product is preserved and sealed until such time it will be open and used.
After another night of hours in the kitchen making jelly, I started thinking about how God is also into preserving. When I searched for the word “preserve,” I found verses that spoke about how God will preserve those who call upon Him. Depending on the Bible translation, other words used for the word preserve were keep, protect, quicken or revive.
So how does God preserve? For those who call on Him, who trust Him as their Savior, He will protect, guide and seal them forever. He doesn’t keep, or preserve, those who will not call upon Him. They are the ones who will be thrown out just as the bad produce is cut away and not used. He keeps those of us who possess the Holy Spirit, like the choice food that is kept and used.
Sometimes even as His children, He allows us to tested. Just as the pressure canner forces the jars to seal even as the food is cooked within the jars, as we persevere through those times of testing, we are growing to be more like Him. He uses those times to make us usable and fruitful for His kingdom. I imagine the food I freeze to be like the times when we can’t feel His Spirit moving. He’s still there, but for whatever reason He is silent so that we can learn patience and endurance. Then there comes the point when I remove the food from the freezer and prepare it to eat by adding other ingredients to make the desserts or casseroles. After we have gone through that time of silence, He will begin speaking again and we find that the time when we were not hearing Him has prepared us to be used in another way.
Sometimes the gardening season and time for harvest will yield little. The weather has caused crops to not grow as bountifully as in other years when it always rains at the right point of growth. There are points in our lives when we feel we are not accomplishing much for Christ. Perhaps those are times when we have strayed away from Him and we have not received the spiritual nourishment we need. If we will stay close to Him so that He can use us and grow us, then it is like the times when all the weather conditions work together to produce bumper crops.
The expense? It cost God everything. He sent His only Son to die on the cross so that we can become preserved for eternity. There are no short cuts. Some people may try to work their way to heaven but will be like the food that has spoiled and was cut away. Some people who have accepted Christ but do not live totally for Him are like the canned food at the grocery store. It is still preserved, but somehow just doesn’t have the same flavor or richness as the food carefully tended to and prepared for preserving. Like the jelly I make that I have to add so much sugar to, living for Christ yields a sweetness that nothing else in this world can offer.
When winter comes and I open that jar of beans, or pull fresh corn out of the freezer, those moments are cherished and enjoyed. After all the hard work in the summer, the hours spent tilling the ground, planting the seed, harvesting the crops and preserving the food, the taste of goodness is worth it. When our winter comes, when our life is ended, after all we have had to endure, Christ will open up the seal and we will gather for a feast in His kingdom that will last for all eternity.
I hope you enjoy the following verses of how God preserves His children.
Proverbs 2:6-12 (NKJV)
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things,
Psalm 16:1-2 (NKJV)
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. 2 O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
Psalm 31:22-24New King James Version (NKJV)
23 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. 24 Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.
Psalm 37:1-4, 25-29 (NKJV)
Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
25 I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. 26 He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed. 27 Depart from evil, and do good; And dwell forevermore. 28 For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever.
Psalm 40:11 (NKJV)
11 Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your loving kindness and Your truth continually preserve me.
Psalm 121:7 (NKJV)
7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
Luke 17:33 (NKJV)
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 23-24 (NKJV)
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
John 10:28 (NKJV)
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.