simmer-and-stir

Simmer and Stir


Chilli is awesome!  My family doesn’t think so.  I don’t think it’s as much as they don’t like to eat it as much as what happens after eating chili for a few days.  

I don’t think I need to expand on that any further…

Anyway…One of the greatest things that I discovered about chilli or any stew or soup is the length of time that it needs to simmer.  There are are all sorts of differing opinions about how to cook chili.  Some use the crock pot, others the stove top.  Some say cook for about an hour, others three or four hours.  I am a subscriber of the three or four hours method.  The Simmer and Stir method.

It was always a sign that fall arrived that I would come home from school as a kid and smell chili cooking in the kitchen.  Mom had started it soon after we left for school and it had cooked all day on the stove.  It smelled amazing and tasted even more so!  What made is so amazing back then as it does today is the time allowed to simmer and stir.  

Chili is one of those meals that is super easy to make.  Simmer and stir.  But it is not a quick one.  It is an all day affair.  It takes time.  And it requires that you simmer for a while, then you stir it.  And you let it simmer for a while again.  Simmer and stir.  You get the idea…More on this later…

I was reading this morning a familiar story in Scripture.  It’s the story of Jesus’ birth recorded by Luke.  In this part of the Christmas story, the angels had just visited the shepherds and told them the news of Jesus’ birth.  

This is amazing all in itself.  You have to know a little about that culture.  Sheperds, because of their calling, had little time to be ceremonially clean as per the law in that day.  In other words, they couldn’t keep up with what  they needed to do to be clean for worship.  Their calling of caring for sheep demanded much from them.  

But what the shepherds guarded were the very sheep that the temple priests needed.  The sacrificial lamb.  Fitting, right?  These lowly shepherds guarded what took away sin in the sacrificial system.  And it is the lowly shepherds that receive the news of the single sacrificial Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world.  

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes!  Chilli and Jesus’ birth!

So the shepherds get the news of Jesus and they high tail it to Bethlehem to see what’s up!  They enter and see what the angels had described.  Here’s the passage…

Luke 2:15–19 NASB

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  

These dudes were so stoked that they couldn’t wait to tell everyone else!  That’s the way good news works, right?  You get some great news and you want to tell all those that you know!  And that’s what the shepherds do.  

But Mary…Mary has a slightly different response.  It’s not wrong.  In every way it is very right.  She “treasured” all that she had seen and was “pondering” them.  She just took it all in.  

Both of those words are interesting compound words.  Treasured and pondering have a common word between them that means together.  The first word, treasured, has the idea of keeping closely together.  Think about what you treasure – you want to keep them closely together in your heart.  Life can get busy, but these are the things, no matter what life brings, are what you keep closely together in your heart.  Mary does this with all that has happened with her and Jesus.  

The second word, “pondering” shares the common idea of together, but has a bit more flavor!  The word “ponder” carries the connotation to stir together.  

Sound familiar?  

Yup!  I am comparing Mary’s experience of Jesus to a stock pot full of chilli!  

Seriously…just stay with me.  Mary takes all that she has experienced over the last nine months.  She takes in what has just happened with the shepherds and the angels.  She meditates on the miracle of life right there in her arms!  She takes in the fact that this is God’s Son, probably something she may not fully understand.  She mediates on all of this, combining each ingredient in her mind.  And she takes the time necessary to simmer and stir.  She ponders them in her heart.  

Some things that God reveals to us just takes time to simmer.  And sometimes we have to stir the pot a little and let it simmer some more.  And as we do, God begins to reveal more, we gain understanding, insight, and wisdom.  We begin to see more of God’s heart.  We start to understand just a little more of God’s character.  

I think that’s what Mary does here.  She ponders…she stirs together all that she’s experienced, all that she knows up to this point about God, and let’s it simmer in her mind.  The word for this is meditation.  

That’s not a bad word.  In fact we are told to mediate on God’s Word.  More often than not, I have to take a verse and really simmer and stir on it before the full flavor begins to emerge as the verse mixes with my experiences, both past and present, along with other truths.  This only happens when I take the right time to mix them together and…you guessed it…simmer and stir…and I let the Holy Spirit begin to reveal to me the full flavor!

I am not so great at this.  I like to keep moving.  I like getting things done.  But the more I simmer and stir the truths of Scripture in my heart, pondering them as Mary did, thinking about them in light of what I have experienced or what I am experiencing, the more I feel I am strengthened, encouraged, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do even more.  There is a great peace that rests upon my heart when I take the time to simmer and stir.  

And that’s my challenge to you.  With all the busyness of the season, take the time today to simmer and stir the truth of Christmas – that God sent a perfect spotless Lamb to take away my sin and your sin.  Let that truth just simmer and stir in your heart.  Ponder it today.  It is so worth the wait and the results are amazing!  

We just have to take the time to…Simmer and stir.