Two days before we were to be leaving for a week's vacation Dan came into the kitchen with seven gallons of picked Chickasaw plums. He says to me, "What can we do with these?" I am sitting in the dining area with sore fingers as I am frantically trying to finish up hand stitching the quilt that I was making for our grandson's birthday (of whom we would be celebrating within two day's time). The word that I zeroed in on was "we". My panic level just goes up and trying to stay calm I say to my man, "I don't think I can help you with those." He assures me that it is himself that will deal with them but just needs some information on how to get started. To his credit, and my joy, he did. This is the first time in almost 37 years that the man of the house has made jelly ~ Chickasaw plum jelly. I have never made jelly. I have made jam but never jelly. This is a monumental event. One, in fact, that should be repeated year after year, eh hem!
But, there has been one slight problem with the plum jelly. Some of the jars of jelly didn't gel. No problem ~ we will just do that batch over again. So we go to the store to buy more pectin and lids (I'm telling you now that this jelly is worth $$ per jar), Confident that this will fix the problem he proceeds to "do over" the offending jars of jelly. It's not looking to good but we are bound for a vacation in Idaho hoping that the jelly will actually gel by the time we come home.
We leave the jelly on the counter for a whole week (as per directions) but come home to more than half of the total count of jars full of jelly that refuse to gel. So, on Tuesday night both Dan and I set out on the quest to gel the jelly. More pectin and more lids along with some sweat and the reprocessed jelly is in jars. We can hear the sound of the lids popping as they seal and it makes us smile. Surely, this time of "do overs" will work and we will have enough jelly to last through the apocalypse.
Sad to say, the six batches that we "did over" only gave us one jar that jelled. Whaaat?? Some people learn through experience that takes much time, effort and years. I think that we are quickly becoming jelly making experts in just a matter of weeks. Although I probably shouldn't be saying that until we come out with a product that fits the criteria.
Wouldn't it be nice if one could "do over" the mistakes of life. What if we could re-do how we raised our children. Or maybe have another chance at that relationship that went bad. How about the times that we kept silent when what was needed was making a stand for truth. Think of all the moments of our lives that if only we could do them over, we wouldn't have the regrets that we live with. And we all have regrets ~ things that we wished we would have done and things that we wished we wouldn't have done, these so-called "sins of omission" and "sins of co-mission".
Of course, no one lives a perfect life even though that is what we really want and somehow strive for. It is a great kindness of God for Him to remove the blinders from our eyes so that we can see our need. And, oh, how we need Someone to save us from ourselves. Someone who provides abundance for our great lack. One who will gently say to us, "Come, I will give you rest". He takes the brokenness of our weary lives and gives peace and a reason for being.
How wonderful and glorious then are these words to my weary heart:
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18
"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." ~ Ezekiel 36:26
(Speaking of Jesus) "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, to grant to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."
Unlike our jars of jelly I might not have "do overs" but the Lord can restore what has been stolen or what has gone amuck. Redemption along with restoration then, is really what is needed, not "do overs". Even if I had the chance to do it all over again my life would look like jars of un-gelled jelly. But to be redeemed and restored by Someone outside of myself is better than words can express. He makes something good out of those moments of my life that could be labeled for a do over. It is His doing and I get the benefit of it. I love this phrase found in Hebrews 12:2 ~ ". . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." From beginning to end He is near, redeeming and securing, guiding and directing, fixing and restoring the many facets of this daily living.
Well, I am happy to let you know that I finally got all the jelly to gel. It took doing over even the "do overs" of the first time (kind of hurts my brain). It looks so pretty on the counter that I don't want to put them away. No worries though ~ they will find room in the cupboard where they belong.
Now I'm on to canning tomatoes. And wouldn't you know it? I have to do over two jars so far that didn't seal. Uff da!