Shelf Life

Have you ever felt stuck? You took a few steps backwards, thinking that a familiar place would provide some comfort, but that was useless. You tried to take a few steps forward, leaving old things in the past and looking forward to new things – but that appears to be much more challenging. What do you do? You feel stuck. Out of place. Blah! Let us look at it from another perspective.

Perhaps you have been placed on a shelf.


When I was a little girl, our summers were filled with trips to farms miles away from where we lived. My grandmother (affectionately called Granny) loved going to the farm. She understood that winters could be brutal around here; having food- her type of food, at arms length was critical. She would not have to wait for her children to get off of work. She would not have to worry about picking through over-picked and out of season fruits and veggies – she did not have to wait for someone to prepare food for her. A quick march from her living room to the kitchen and in the pantry and voila!!! – southern food in a matter of minutes. Granny could eat what she wanted and when she wanted it.

My Granny raised 11 children – 7 girls and 4 boys in the bayou of Alabama. This place actually made the big screen. If you ever watched the movie, Forest Gump, one of Forest’s closest friend’s was Bubba Gump. Bubba was from a city called Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Guess what? That little town is made up of most of my family, where my mom, aunts, and uncles, great uncles – all were raised.. Granny knew how to survive – to take a little and create a lot. She understood how to prepare food and make it last.

My cousins and I had so much fun, roaming through the fields with Granny and our aunts; picking greens, string beans, strawberries, corn…you name it!


We would arrive home with trunk loads of boxes and garbage bags of greens. We would do as she and our aunt instructed, to prepare for preservation. We would help Granny pick the vegetables and prepare them for cleaning and cooking. Then, Granny implored a process called canning.

Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer. A freeze-dried canned product, such as canned dried lentils, could last as long as 30 years in an edible state.

This process made me think of you. Yes you. Perhaps you have been canned – placed on the shelf. You have been given picked out (come out from among them – 2 Corinthians 6:17) to be received by Jesus, cleaned up and preserved for future use. God has preserved you, a specific time to be taken off the shelf, for future use. At just the right time, The Father will send the Holy Spirit to pull you off the shelf, and grant you a seat at the table that He has prepared.

Don’t get weary. Do not give up! While you are waiting, just like those canned string beans and other veggies, allow your spirit to become established, settled and strengthened you – so that you are perfect!

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)

Your misfortunes are not God’s will. Stop holding yourself hostage. It is not time. At just the right time, you will be pulled off the shelf.

God is using you for future use or more like you are being preserved for something or someone greater!! When God “shelves” you, He is shaping, forming and molding you for an even more powerful effective ministry, for His Kingdom. His timing is perfect.  Shelf-life causes our self-confidence to die and our God dependence to grow. He wants us to totally depend upon him. He teaches us about shelf life and the significance of being placed on the shelf. God is not in a hurry to take you off the shelf. Don’t rush the process.

Preservation prevents defilement.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:11-15 (NIV)

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