Preserve Me

I grew up watching my mom and grandmother can anything that was “cannable”.  Preserving food was just part of summer.  I can still remember those hot afternoons standing in a chair cranking that tomato juicer as my mom dropped in what seemed like a never ending supply of fresh tomatoes.

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After the sun had gone down we would drag our tired selves inside for a bath to scrub away the splattered tomato juice from wherever it had landed throughout the day.  Honestly, at that time, preserving food on my own was the furthest thing from my mind.  But over 20 years later, here I am standing in my kitchen juicing tomatoes from our garden so I can do the same for my family.

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As I was reading one of David’s prayers recently in Psalm 16, I was intrigued by the words he chose to use and how he chose to use them.

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.  (emphasis mine)
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Due to all the food preservation I’ve undertaken this summer, David using this word as a prayer for himself to God made me stop and reread this passage a few times.  For some reason I was having trouble wrapping my mind around asking God to preserve me.  All I could think of was green beans and pickles and tomato juice.  How can I be bottled up and preserved for later use?

After some help from my Psalms commentary I found that the word preserve means to,

“keep” or “save”, “guard me” as bodyguards surround their monarch or as shepherds protect their flock . . . I need to be preserved from the power of evil . . . God is the preserver of men (Job 7:20) . . . Jesus would be preserved (Isaiah 49:7-8) . . . Jesus asks for preservation for himself and all in Him (John 17) . . . If Jesus looked out of himself for protection, how much more must we . . .

Just as I am “keeping” or “saving” the vegetables for the colder, out of season days so David is asking God to “keep” or “save” him from evil.  The older I get the more aware I become of sin in my life and the more I realize how much evil is around me in this earthly life.

Spurgeon, in the Psalms commentary, goes on to describe that this cry “O God”, David’s cry,  is the Hebrew word El which is used of God when under a sense of great weakness.

So David is crying out for God to keep him, save him, guard him in this time when he is under a sense of great weakness.  Oh haven’t you felt like this?!  This is balm to my sores, light to my darkness, hope to my hopelessness.  I live in a fallen world and it is inevitable that I will encounter difficult times here.  I will experience a sense of great weakness.  This may come during times of great suffering.  Or it may come just on an ordinary day when it seems everything is “great”.

But David doesn’t stop there.  “For in you I take refuge.”  Do you want to know what Spurgeon says about this?  “As chickens run beneath the hen, so do I come to thee.”  I have a place of security, safety, a refuge!  I have a place beneath my heavenly father, in the shadow of His wings where I find all that I could ever need or even want.

As I sterilize yet another lid and screw a canning ring on another quart jar I don’t look see just a jar of tomatoes.  I see a reminder of my God, the same God David cried out to, my God who preserves me!

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Incline my heart

Each morning before the house awakes I sit here in my sunroom reading.  A room with so much light has convinced me to begin a small collection of houseplants.  I watch them from day to day determining what needs water or which plant has outgrown its planter and needs an upgrade.  Sitting nearest to me is a small violet in which I have made its home in the cutest little vintage hippo planter.  It started small and I wasn’t sure it would live.  However, over a period of weeks it has flourished and doubled in size.  Recently, I noticed that it was leaning, almost hanging over the planter.  At first I wondered if I hadn’t rooted it well and it was becoming top heavy.  Then my thoughts went to the light.  If you have ever grown plants you are aware that plants grow toward the light.  Why?  Plants turn the light into energy which then allows them to grow or perform any other activities needed to survive.  We also know this process as photosynthesis.

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I decided to conduct a little experiment to determine the reason for my leaning violet.  I turned the planter 90 degrees so the opposite side would face the light.  I didn’t notice anything for several days but a week later I can already see a difference.  It is in a more neutral position.  My guess is that over the next week or two it will again be leaning toward the light.

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Left to my own devices, my own flesh and blood, I have little in common with the violet.  Naturally I do not lean toward the light.  Actually, I lean away from the light.  Romans 3:10-18 explains the evil of my flesh.  Verse 12 specifically says “all have turned aside”.  Turned aside means “to lean in the wrong direction”.  According to John MacArthur these words were used to describe “a soldier’s running in the wrong way, or deserting”.  He also goes on to say that “all people are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own.”

What if my little violet were to lean itself away from the light?  What would happen?  My assumption would be that it would not flourish and grow and very possibly it would die.  Isn’t this true for me as well?  What happens if I continue to live according to my flesh, my “natural” ways, leaning away from the light?  Will I also wilt?

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But . . . there is hope for my natural ways!!!!  Jesus Christ!  He was crucified, buried, and rose again in order for me to be able to lean toward the light.  He is the light of the world (John 8:12) and He lives within my soul!  I have the light of life because I am a follower of Him (John 8:12).

Does this mean I am perfect?  Will I always lean, as my little violet, toward the light no matter what position I am placed in?  Absolutely not!  Even though I am a child of the one true God there is still, while on this earth, a battle raging in me between the flesh and spirit.  I will still have a tendency to lean away from the light.

My encouragement in this battle is that I don’t have to wonder how the battle will end.  He is victorious!!

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace?  Romans 6:14 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57

And as I battle, my prayer is that I will delight in His law and that He will incline my heart to Him!

My delight in the law of the Lord will result in me being like a tree planted by streams of water which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”   Psalm 1:3 
“Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.  Psalm 119:36
 
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National Agriculture Day 2014

Last summer B, Roxie Kyle, and I traveled to our nation’s capital.  It is truly one of my favorite places to visit in the U.S.  One of my dear friends moved there several years ago and I have been able to visit her several times.  Typically, the visits include trying out new restaurants she has discovered, an attraction I haven’t seen before, or maybe a baseball game.  But this visit was different.  I wasn’t just traveling as a tourist but as an advocate.  An advocate for agriculture.

While my family was in D.C. I experienced something I have never experienced before.  An awareness of passion.  Passion for something we, as a family, believe in and depend on for our livelihood.  But it wasn’t just our passion that I sensed.  I realized that this city is filled with passion.  Is there another place in this country where people are working and living their lives with the the sole purpose of standing up for, bringing awareness to, and advocating for their passion?!  Whoa!  At this realization I took a second look at my passion.  The very passion that prompted us to make the trek to this city.

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Agriculture has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I’m a farmer’s kid so I spent many long, hot hours on a tractor cutting and raking hay.  And at that point in my life it was something I had to do in order to help pay some college expenses.  Over the years agriculture has continued to be a part of my life.  My college major was agriculture business and I married an agricultural education teacher who is now a full-time farmer.  For years, these experiences were what defined my passion for agriculture.  However, during that trip to D.C. my perspective shifted.  Where would I be, where would the world be without agriculture?  I couldn’t imagine the answer.  And my passion grew.

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There is very little that we touch throughout the day that isn’t in some form or fashion related to agriculture.  In my 4-H Acres of Adventure class we discussed how agriculture is all around us.  Maybe you sleep on cotton sheets or use a cotton bath towel.  Who grew that cotton? Maybe your children colored with crayons made from soybean oil.  Who grew the soybeans?  Maybe you eat a cheeseburger for lunch.  Who raised that beef?  We went on to discuss the variety of jobs that are related to agriculture.  The number of jobs provided by the agriculture industry reaches far beyond a farmer in the field.  Can you imagine even a day without agriculture?

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That is why I am passionate.  We need agriculture.  It’s a part of us.  Today, on this 2014 National Agriculture Day I celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives!

 

To learn more about National Ag Day click here.

For fun facts about agriculture click here.

An agriculture reading list can be found here.