Holy Canning

In the house where I spent most of my growing up years, we had a finished-by-my-Grandpa basement. It had a kitchen, complete with cupboards, a deep freeze, table and chairs and an electric stove where my Granny would do all the canning. It was certainly cooler to work down there and this little girl thought we were rich because we had, not one but TWO kitchens!

Every year, when the green beans were gathered, snapped and washed, she would head to the basement, round up her jars, fill them with said beans, add a tsp of salt, pour hot water over the top with one inch of headspace, place the lid on top and screw the ring on.

All the while, the pressure cooker was on the stove heating the water in preparation for the jars to be put in. Once the jars are in, the lid is locked down and you wait for the steam to come through the vent. After 10 minutes of that, you place the “weight” on and wait for the pressure to build up to 10 pounds.

How can you tell the pressure has built up to 10 pounds? The weight starts to jiggle. It’s a beautiful sound to a gardener and canner of vegetables. But every time the jiggle started my Granny would say to me, run and get your Grandpa. I don’t want to blow up the kitchen he worked so hard on. 

With the weight of the basement blowing up resting solely on my shoulders, I would run up those basement stairs as fast as my little legs could go in search of my Grandpa. I thought for sure if I took too long to find him, that part of the house would be blown to smithereens. A hole in the house, and surely in my heart as my Granny was down there waiting for me to bring in the back-up, was all I could envision. 

Fast forward four plus decades and here I am, gathering my own green beans, snapping, washing, rounding up and filling jars, adding salt and hot water to one inch headspace, placing the lid, screwing on the ring and putting prepared jars into my own pressure cooker. 

The first couple of times I used that thing, I was so nervous that I always made sure Todd was there so I wouldn’t blow up  (my own)kitchen. Now, I’m comfortable enough to go at it alone and even though I know I won’t blow the kitchen up, I am respectful of the power inside that pressure cooker and the potential harm that can come if I get too complacent and think I don’t need to respect the instructions given in the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. 

Comfortable yes. Careless no. Respectful yes. Flippant no.

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Uzziah was made king when he was just 16 years old and remained on the throne for fifty-two years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just like his father Amaziah

He waged successful wars against the Philistines. 

His enemies, the Ammonites paid him tribute. 

His fame spread throughout the land. 

His power was unequaled with armies and equipment at his command. 

His wealth unmatched with cattle, fertile land, vineyards, servants.

He was wondrously helped until he became, as my Granny would say, too big for his own britches. 

For when he became strong, he grew arrogant, and it led to his own destruction. (2Chronicles 26:16 CSB)

We see proof of this in this same chapter when his pride puffed up to the point of believing he was above God’s law. He wanted to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense on the altar. 

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? 

The problem is that wasn’t his job. Only the consecrated priests, the descendants of Aaron, have the right to offer incense.  They begged him to leave the sanctuary, for you have acted unfaithfully! You will not receive honor from the Lord God. (v18) 

Did he listen to the eighty priests who bravely stood up to him and tried to stop him from defiling the Lord? Nope. He became enraged with them. When he became so angry, the God who gave him success (v5) and helped him (v7) and made him powerful (v8) was also the God who cursed him with a skin disease which banned him from any access to the temple. He was quarantined until the day he died. (v19-21)

Uzziah didn’t listen to sound advice, didn’t follow the Good Book’s guide to preserving your life and his kitchen blew up! 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

How do you go from doing what is right in God’s eyes, being successful, powerful and well liked, to being banned from the temple with the epithet He had a skin disease, as the last (only?) thing people remembered about you? What did Uzziah do to blow up his kitchen? 

1. He became too comfortable in his position. Fifty-two years he sat on that throne as king. The longer we do something, the easier it is to become lax and take for granted our own position in life. We can forget that power, blessing, peace, fruitfulness, fame, fertility comes from God. I wonder if Uzziah thought he sat side-by-side with God, matching chairs and all and forgot for a moment that it is God alone who sits on the throne and is all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing. 

I never want to become so comfortable in my position in life or as God’s daughter that I forget who He is…holy and sovereign…or what he’s done for me already…given His Son to die on a cross for my sins. Can I go to Him with anything? Absolutely! Do I need to remember who I’m talking to? Yes. Yes I do. 

Just like with the pressure cooker, I want to be comfortable enough to know how to use it to make good things but respectful of the power within. 

2. He became full of himself. All that Uzziah was, his successes and fame, came from God. What should have humbled him produced pride instead. He convinced himself that he deserved more. That he had every right to be a priest as well as a king. 

I can sure convince myself of my own good works, can’t I? Look at me and all that I’ve accomplished. Here, let me do your job too because I’m that good. All the while forgetting that I have an assignment and ultimately God is in control. 

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes all things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You just happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1Corinthians 3:6 MSG) 

I think about this verse often when I’m out watering the garden and thank Him for growing it…and me. 

3. He stopped listening to wise advice. This happens when we get full of ourselves. The priest Azariah as well as eighty other priests were telling Uzziah, warning Uzziah, begging Uzziah to not do the thing Uzziah arrogantly thought he had every right to do. 

81 priests saying the same thing, surely can’t be wrong. 

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. (Proverbs 13:10) 

What would happen if I (arrogantly) thought I knew more than the people who wrote the Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving  simply because I had a couple of successful batches of green beans. These folks have been an unrivaled guide to home canning for more than 100 years

Surely, I would blow up my kitchen! 

What do I do when others give me wise advice? Warnings? How do I react towards them?

What do I do when I read the Bible…the wisest words of all because they are the very words of God? Do I think I know better? Or do I heed its warnings? Do I do as it says? Listen to what it’s telling me? 

Not always. Sometimes my life blows up because of it.

4. He stopped revering God. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Have we also stopped revering God? Has He become more like a “Bro” and less holy in our eyes? Have we scooted His throne over to seat ourselves beside Him…like equals? 

The Bible tells us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV) Approach. Not rearrange for our own to be brought in. 

Solomon says, don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7 CSB) Fear. Revere. 

I’ve heard fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10 NIV) 

Have we stopped fearing, revering? 

In his book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul says, 

When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and hopelessness. Helpless sinners can survive only by grace. Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. 

Yes, and amen. 

What happened to Uzziah can(does) happen to any(all) of us if we’re not careful. 

As in my experience with the canner, I try to be with God:

Comfortable yes. Careless no. Respectful yes. Flippant no.

All of this from an afternoon spent picking, snapping and canning green beans. 


6 thoughts on “Holy Canning

  1. Remembering the little things. I was the little girl that helped my grandparents can. I put the table spoon of salt in before the water was added.
    It was much later that I realized just how close God was standing,and how he would be there though every canning season. If I’d let Him.
    Thank you Kim for reminding me.

    1. Don’t you love that they let you help?! That always made me feel like I was something else! 🙂 Thanks for reading Pat!

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