Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Psalm 31:23 (NIV)

Mom grew up in rural Minnesota long before cell phones and microwaves and cyberspace were even words in the dictionary. She’d often tell stories of riding to church in the sleigh or buggy with nothing but hot stones to warm their feet. When electricity came to their farm it was an amazing, exciting event!

In mom’s world, frugality was a lifestyle, not an option. The things she learned on the farm prepared her for her life as a pastor’s wife. With five boys to feed and a husband serving small, rural churches like she grew up in, excess was rare and simple things were cherished.

One of the many things mom did to make ends meet was to always have a big garden. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the fresh vegetables and detested the thought of having to help plant, weed or harvest. I don’t ever remember, however, being upset about having the fruit and vegetables mom canned on those cold winter evenings or for Sunday dinner!

I never once complained about having mom’s strawberry preserves on a piece of her warm, homemade bread.

Today, for the most part, people who preserve fruits and vegetables and make jam and preserve other fruit do so for nostalgia or to help make ends meet. For mom (and us) it was a necessity. Rows of colorful jars on the basement shelf in the fall provided assurance of food for the winter regardless of anything else that might happen.

I think of that when I read Psalm 31:23. The Lord ‘preserves’ those who are true to him. We, as his children are protected from the ravages of life. Regardless of what goes on around us, we stay safe in secure in him, like a jar of strawberry jam, unaffected by all that goes on around us.

Today the things I see around me make life difficult. Today I’m confused, frustrated, worried and maybe even angry at times by where I see the world going. But I’m preserved! I know that someday all this will pass and I’ll receive in full measure all that the Father has for me. The Father’s preservation of me means I’m changed so that life’s struggles will not affect me, yet I maintain the basic identity of who I am.

Those who reject his love, the psalmist says, will receive, in full measure, the consequences of their rejection. They will seek fulfillment in things unpleasing to God and suffer the despair of loneliness. They’ll openly reject the principles of his word and continue on a path of hopelessness. Will God punish them severely? I think the psalmist implies that he won’t need to. He’ll simply let the consequences of their behavior run its full course in their lives. Rejecting God carries its own penalty.

For us, though, as his children there is forgiveness, restoration, and best of all, preservation.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for preserving me. The things I see around me scare me. The trials I’m enduring now weigh me down. But I rest in your promise and wait for your blessing to unfold because I know that through Jesus Christ I am preserved. Amen.