My love of strawberry jam began in Lucille’s kitchen.
I wish I could share with you the intricacies of our friendship, how God had the kindness to mold a mentor out of my Sunday School teacher. There was a season in my life where I would sit at her kitchen table every Sunday morning, drinking in her wisdom with my hot chocolate.
And without fail, my breakfast included toast with the most delicious strawberry jam I’d ever tasted. I bragged about it so much that my family wanted to try it, so I asked Lucille where she bought her jar of sugary goodness.
I remember her pointing over her shoulder, to the yard beyond her kitchen window. She told me she grew her own strawberries and when the time was right, her family came over and made strawberry jam with her. She smiled warmly, the kind of smile that creases your face when the memories are sweet.
As a young teen with an old soul, I was fascinated by the idea that Lucille’s homemade strawberry jam was precious. It was likely a family recipe, which meant it was off limits to the nerdy girl trying to catch a ride to Sunday School after pathetic attempts at learning the piano.
I knew I wasn’t special enough to have the recipe for the good stuff.
But I loved it dearly — so dearly that I asked for it as a graduation present before I moved away. When Lucille presented the plastic-wrapped mason jar to me, it was too much for my heart to handle. So much in my life was changing — I was graduating high school, moving over two hundred miles away, and starting a brand new life that I was both terrified and excited to begin.
So I threw caution to the wind, stuck my heart out on my sleeve, and asked for the recipe. “I know it’s probably passed down from generation to generation, and I know I’m not your daughter or anything, but will you please share the secret recipe for your strawberry jam?”
My heart ricocheted in my chest, proving that this wasn’t really about a recipe at all. I was asking Lucille if I was special enough for her to share something sacred with me.
And I’ll never forget her response, even after all these years. Without missing a beat or making a face, she simply said, “There is no secret. I just follow the directions on the box.”
I still think of that moment each time I eat strawberry jam. I’ll smile or laugh to myself because I spent so much time believing that recipe was out of my reach when it was available to me from the beginning. All I had to do was ask.
I think I’m like that with God, too.
I make things harder than they need to be. I convince myself the things He has for me are out of my grasp. I think they’re beyond my reach or only meant for special people with special privileges, with special access — as if God has a tiered membership program and I’m forever on the bottom.
I believe I’m not right, I’m not worthy, I’m not enough.
Meanwhile, God assures me that the blood of Christ doesn’t just cleanse me, it makes me family. There’s no family secret to keep because I’m already in. He isn’t withholding anything good or right from me.
So the kindness of God — the goodness and wisdom and divine direction I can so clearly see in the lives of others — is available to me too.
I beg Him for direction. I measure and compare. “Just tell me the recipe for a good life, God,” I pray. “Tell me the secret, and I’ll use it to make You proud.” And my heart ricochets in my chest because I think if I can have a good life, or at least a life that looks good, it will mean that He loves me. It will mean that I’m enough.
But I think He echoes Lucille’s words from years ago: there is no secret.
Because it’s Him. He’s the one ingredient needed to make a good life. Everything else pales in comparison, fading into nothing as He exists into eternity.
My good life is found in Him. He is the good stuff . . . the best stuff.
That’s the easiest recipe ever.Leave a Comment