Written in 2000 during a period of “Shelf-Sitting”
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe
pasture. Delight yourself in the
Lord and he will give you the
desires of your heart.
Silently gathering dust appears its only use—a jar sits on a shelf in the dark lonely back section of my pantry. It does not look very impressive. At first glance, some may decide to discard it. But not me! I know its real value.
You see it is my mother’s last jar of home-canned green beans. There will never be another one like it. Mother is gone to be with Jesus; singing in that heavenly choir. But, I have sweet memories of all the things we shared together. I also have her “stuff” which for the most part sits on shelves, reminding me of those days long past.
I’m on the shelf now too. I am waiting; kind of like that last jar of green beans. Inside the beans are preserved for use on another day, waiting for just the right moment, perhaps Thanksgiving or Christmas, but definitely a special occasion. To the casual observer they are nothing special at all, they are like me; ordinary! Perhaps just like you.
Not too long ago I was busily involved in ministry. Now, all is quiet. You see we moved to a new town, a new state where my husband is involved in ministry. I am sure we are supposed to be here. I am sure we are doing the right thing. But as my husband goes out to minister and I am left behind to wait on the shelf, I wonder when it will be my turn? Why am I sitting and waiting? How long will I be left on the shelf?
But I remember my mother’s beans and the process of preparing them for their intended purpose. First they are lovingly sown in fertile soil, and watched over, weeded, and watered as they grow. Then at just the right time, they are picked and broken, washed, boiled, put in jars and pressure cooked until the perfect moment. Next they are allowed to cool until you hear the pop of the lid which indicates that the jar is sealed—safe for future use.
Isn’t that similar to the way God cares for us? He watches over us as the Word is planted in our hearts (hopefully fertile soil). He brings circumstances into our lives to water us spiritually and help us to grow and sometimes, when we feel we are ready to set the world on fire for God, He allows us to be broken, put to the test, and maybe—just maybe—set on a shelf for a while.
Are you shelved right now? Are you wondering why someone else has a living, vibrant and exciting ministry but, like my mother’s green beans, you seem to be doing nothing but sitting on a shelf gathering dust? Maybe it is a time for you and me to learn to rest in Him, cast our cares, and fret not. Maybe it is a preparation time for what he has planned for our future. Maybe it is a time to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Whatever the reason, I am determined to use this time to look inward and upward, to prepare my heart for service instead of outward and downward at my circumstances. And perhaps one day soon, I will look back on this time and realize that while shelf sitting and dust collecting appeared to be my only use; God has been preparing and preserving me for a special occasion. How about you?