Monday, November 23, 2015

Red Hot Christmas Pickles and the Broken Jar

Not long after I started practicing medicine, one of my patients brought me a jar of red-hot pickles for Christmas. These were the best pickles I had ever eaten (and the most beautiful). I was thrilled when she shared the recipe with me, but it's intense. There's something to do to these pickles every day for five days. I don't make them often.

As you can imagine, every jar is precious. In my family, they've come to be known as the Red Hot Christmas Pickles. That's because I only bring them out at Christmas.

I made an except this year and included them in our upcoming family Thanksgiving menu. Last night, I reached in the cabinet for a jar of pickles. I pulled out a half-pint jar, decided I needed a pint jar, and reached back inside. Somehow, in the reaching, I dropped the half-pint jar. It shattered. 

Red pickle juice, glass, and red-hot Christmas pickles went everywhere. I reached down to pick up the broken glass and sliced my arm. Blood dripped onto the floor and mingled with the Christmas pickles. My first thought was not, "Thank you, Jesus." My first thought (I'm sorry to say), as I tried to wipe up the mess on the floor while holding pressure on my wound, which was on fire from the pickle juice in it, came straight from my life before Jesus. 

I was disappointed in my mind, but I know I'm not the only one who's had that experience. As I read about Jacob/Israel again today, I realized he'd done the same thing. You probably remember his son, Joseph. He was a great man and much-loved by his father. 

Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because he was his father's favorite, so they sold him into slavery. To make matters worse, they stole the multi-colored coat his father had given him, dipped it in goat blood, and gave it to their father. "Look at this. Is it your son's coat?" they asked him.

Israel held the blood-soaked coat in his hand and jumped to a terrible conclusion. He assumed an animal had eaten Joseph and torn him to pieces. I don't know how he thought an animal had removed the coat without tearing it to shreds, but that's what Israel assumed. 

The sons handed the coat to their father. Israel held it in his hands, and assumed Joseph was dead. Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned for his son. (Gen. 37:34) Jacob refused to be comforted.

Do you see how quickly he reverted from Israel to Jacob again? He believed a lie he had made up himself (with some help from his sons) and immediately went back to his "old" self. It's entirely too easy. We all do it. 

We will likely struggle with the old man versus the new man until Jesus returns.

One day, though, He will give a "white stone, and a new name written on the stone" to those who overcome. (Rev. 2:21) On that glorious day, we will be who He intended us to be. No more struggle. No more "pre-Christ" words or behavior. 

Until then, we are to treat our "old self" like a set of worn-out clothes. We take them off and put them aside. We are to "put on" our new self, the one that is being renewed to a true understanding of our Lord. (Colossians 3:9-10) When that "old self" creeps back, what are we to do? Take off that old, no good, pile of filthy rags and put on the pure-white robes of righteousness purchased for us on the Christ.

We can be better than we once were, but only if we lay aside the old and embrace the new. 

As disciples, we continue to lay aside the old and embrace the new. Every day. Until Jesus returns or calls us home.

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24 nasb
In case you missed any of the past week's posts, here are the links:  Resisting EvilPraying for PeaceAnswered Prayers in Disguise,  Grateful Heart: MizpahNigerian Nightmare,  Grateful Heart: Maggie Protects her Master, and Grateful Heart: Hard Times

The most read post of the last week: Praying for Peace.
The season of Advent is almost here. Now is a good time to consider purchasing The Road to Bethlehem, an Advent guide, available on Amazon. Available in paperback or e-book.

#JesusChrist #oldman #madenew #disciple #Joseph #whitestone