In typical fashion, it only took us a few days to go from frigid, plant-damaging nighttime temperatures to sweltering, humid heat in the 90s—not a few weeks, but a few days! People here, jokingly but not really jokingly, say, “This is Oklahoma. If you don’t like the weather just stick around a few minutes, and it will change.” This year we’ve experienced winter, tornado season, wind season, flood season and summer in what feels like a 24-hour period! Each year I hope for a true and lovely spring, and each year I end up feeling a little cheated.
It’s late May, and despite the weather challenges, our summer gardens are planted. The rising cost of food was a driving force behind how much we planted, and now all of the tiny, emerging plants are reminding us of the work that lies ahead. It’s what gardening is all about! When you plant a seed, it is evidence of the hope and expectation that you have. No one plants a garden and then expects nothing to happen, for that would be foolish and a waste of time. Rather, you carefully plan, diligently plant and lovingly care with a spirit of expectation.
The goal is to produce food and, hopefully, a lot of it. There’s nothing more satisfying than working hard all summer and entering into winter with a full freezer and a well-stocked pantry. I’ve seen the pictures, and surely you have, too. Wooden shelves lined with delicious looking home canned foods, colorful jams and jellies, salsas and pickles, dried herbs and peppers, braided garlic, root vegetables and pumpkins. When we plant our garden, that’s what I’m working toward. To have all of that is my goal, and I wouldn’t enter the project with anything less than full expectation of being able to achieve it.
However, planting the garden is just the first part. The second part is knowing what to do with everything as it begins to mature and is ready to harvest. There’s a learning curve. Planting a large garden and not having the skills or knowledge of how to preserve the food that comes from it is setting yourself up for disappointment and waste. The counterpart to having a spirit of expectation is having faith in something that can make that expectation come to fruition. Taking the time to learn food preservation skills is necessary before the produce starts rolling in.
Below are some common ways that people preserve fresh garden produce and websites that support learning. Each of them are skills that are perfected with practice and, today, more out of a desire rather than a need. Culturally speaking, most people don’t have to rely on these techniques for sustenance. Food is convenient and available all around us. However, to some, their minds are made up. This is the way they prefer. It’s their choice.
- Canning—pressure canning and water bath canning https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
- Fermenting—sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, etc.—https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/natural-fermentation/how-to-ferment-vegetables/
- Freeze drying—https://harvestright.com/
Choosing to grow a garden, choosing to learn food preservation techniques and choosing to stock your home with your own food is a personal decision just as choosing to live for God is. The Bible gives an account of some people who made the choice to live for God and how they went about it. Culturally speaking, most people weren’t living for Him, but some had faith—a real spirit of expectation in what God could do for them and decided to put Him to the test.
Knowing that he could be killed for this, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8).
Facing the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “But, even if He does not let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:18).
WOW! These men had such a strong belief and expectation that God would rescue them that they literally put their lives on the line and you know what? He did!
On different levels, gardening and living for God both require faith. We can plan and plant and water and care, but only God can do the growing. We can learn and work and study and prepare, but only God can provide and protect. He never fails and is more than capable of fulfilling all of our expectations.
“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you” (Isa 30:18).