Published: September 9, 2023
Updated: November 4, 2023
Do you have a word that inspires you for the year? Some people like to choose a word that gives them inspiration for each day of the year. For instance choosing the word Joy can act as a reminder to be joyful in all things. Or another choice of the word Thankful is a reminder to be Thankful no matter what! Some people are very creative in their word choice. I like the word Thoughtful. It reminds me to give careful thought to what I do and to what I say and to what I wish for.
This week my word to concentrate on was nothing very profound. Out of necessity my word for this week was Pickles! Despite the dry weather, the cucumbers planted in our gardens have done exceptionally well. So well that, I was given 2 dishpans of cucumbers long before we picked even one of ours. They were such nice little cucumbers that I made most of them into refrigerated pickles. A dear good friend gave me the recipe several years ago and it is one of our favorites. We use it every year and enjoy our refrigerator pickles and it always makes us remember what a great person she is. After making several quarts of pickles, we realized that our refrigerator can only hold so many jars of pickles!!!!!
And then our own row of slow cucumbers started being productive. Now the kind of cucumbers we have grown to love is a kind that I never knew about until a few years ago. I was the receiver of an odd cucumber that was covered with a very wrinkled skin even when picked very fresh. But it was a great tasting cucumber and we wanted to plant it ourselves. I had to do some Face book research and soon learned the name--it was Suyo Asian cucumber. And since then, we haven't planted any other variety. And this year, we have a whole lot of Suyo's! What was I going to do with them all?
There certainly wasn't going to be enough room in the refrigerator and not even room in 2 refrigerators. We have eaten cucumbers in many forms, we have given away cucumbers, and we have already started eating our winter supply of refrigerator pickles.
But God has provided a bumper crop of cucumbers despite the severely dry weather we have had. When God gives, I am thankful and use what He gives me as much as possible. So--I needed to make more pickles! This time I needed to put them in jars and can them. Remember, no more refrigerator space! Now, I have canned pickles in the past and my efforts have been mostly undesirable. Believe me, they have not been anything at all like pickles you buy in a store though I have always had visions of them being great. They never are though. The last time I tried, we had soggy soft pickles that we didn't want to eat! No crispy crunchy pickles! I have saved many different recipes in hopes of someday finding one that I liked. So, I went back to a recipe that my aunt used to make very good pickles. But this time, I decided to use it with variations. It is a dangerous thing to take a good recipe and adapt it to make it your own. Substitute ingredients and use different methods--but I did it anyway. I made a whole 7 quarts! And then I wondered! I wondered what they were like, wondered what they tasted like, and wondered if they would be crisp?
The cucumbers continued to produce...and produce...and produce. It was almost a miracle. And no one seemed to want more cucumbers. I decided I better get going and can up some more. But.....what recipe should I use? I finally had to find out what my first experiment turned out to be like--soft and yucky or crisp and good? I opened one of the first 7! It was Good—even Great!! We liked them! They were crisp and crunchy and had good flavor. Best of all, it was easy--couldn't have been easier--unless I purchased them already canned! Now I can throw away my collection of pickle recipes that I have been saving! I now have 2 that we like and that I like to make. Part of my new recipe was a hint from Face book that I have known about for several years. I am asking myself why I never tried it before?
Making pickles this week brought another memory to me. There is a game that we have played several times. It has a simple premise and I won't go into details about it but if you want, you can goggle it and learn all about it. It is called “In a Pickle!” You end up being in a pickle if you can't finish the game. It is a game of words where you have to choose a word that can be "bigger" than the last word played or that will "fit in" the last word played. If you can't do that, well, you are in a PICKLE!
Sometimes no matter how much we plan and try to prepare, things go wrong and then we are in a pickle! When your car breaks down and you are far from home, then you are in a pickle and have to depend on others and God to help you get out of your "pickle". This happened to someone we know this week. Our "pickles" teach us patience, calmness, dependence, and thankfulness--sort of like the fruits of the spirit.
All the concentration this week on making pickles has made me wonder if there was another kind of spiritual application? Can you come up with how pickles can bring you closer to God? When I get in one of life's pickles, I want out of the pickle! Sometimes only God knows how I can get out of the pickle. But we have to ask for help and then we have to accept His way out of the pickle. We have to follow His recipe for us! We should not try to invent our own way out! We should not do what I did and come up with a different way out unless we have asked for God to direct.
I decided to find out if anyone else wondered about Pickles and God. I came across an analogy that seemed to apply it to baptism that comes close to communicating baptism well. The message of baptism is incredibly profound, beautiful, meaningful, powerful, and transformative.
The metaphor came from a Greek poet, physician, and grammarian named Nicander. He was probably also a part-time chef. Nicander lived about 200 years before Christ was born. In all likelihood, he knew nothing about our Savior or about baptism. At some point of time in his life, Nicander wrote out a recipe on how to make pickles out of vegetables. It is in this recipe that can be found one of the best illustrations of baptism that you might ever come across. In his recipe, Nicander wrote that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be dipped into boiling water, and then left immersed forever, in a vinegar solution. Obviously, he wrote all this in Greek. The Greek word he used to describe the process of dipping the vegetable in hot water is the word bapto.And the Greek word he used to describe the process of leaving the vegetable immersed forever in vinegar is the word baptizo. Here is something most interesting. Every single time the word baptism appears in the New Testament, the Greek word used is baptizo, not the word bapto. To be baptized does not mean to be dipped in Christ and then go on living the same lives we were living earlier—not at all.
To be baptized means to be left forever immersed in Christ, just as a pickle is left forever immersed in vinegar. When you taste a pickled vegetable, it tastes more like vinegar than the vegetable itself. This is what the faith that leads us to baptism should do to us. It should make us taste more of Christ than of ourselves. Isn't that a good illustration that explains baptism--just a jar of homemade pickles. To be clear, it is not that act of baptism itself that brings about our transformation. It is the faith that leads us to baptism that changes us inside out. I want to be changed! I want to be as a pickle but not in a pickle!!