One of my hobbies as I move more toward retirement is to spend time grilling, cooking and smoking in the backyard. Although I have more than 50 years grilling experience, I entered the world of backyard smoking approximately five years ago. Of course, I visited numerous websites, watched countless YouTube videos, visited every grill store within a reasonable driving distance and learned everything that I could about my new hobby.
In the beginning, we tried to use one of our several grills and modify it for use as a smoker. While it worked for a while, it got to the point that my hobby was more like work than fun and for a short season, I thought about getting away from all of it – just not worth it.
That’s when Janet suggested we actually purchase a dedicated smoker, which we did, and suddenly things got much easier. Both the quality of the cooking and the ease with which I could accomplish things really changed my perspective. Since then, it has been an exercise in lifelong learning.
The problem with some of this is the fact that everybody has a different way to do things and sooner or later you have to commit to what way you want to go. This even includes the equipment you purchase. And while I didn’t really notice it in the beginning, the cooking community, like so many others, is filled with professionals who think everything has to be done their way.
Those of you who know me realize that I like to make my own decisions and want to weigh the pluses and minuses to arrive at a way to proceed. In my research, I came across a group of pitmasters who seemed very encouraging and affirming in the way they approached their craft. The effort is led by a woman pitmaster and her husband who have built quite a following on social media.
I decided to join the group and immediately was glad that I did. There are numerous challenges to increase proficiencies in various areas of grilling and smoking. This is exactly the kind of thing that appeals to me. Well, tonight, I finished my fourth advanced course and achieved a status that I have been striving for – a Pitmaster.
I know that it sounds a little campy but I have been impressed with the help, the encouragement and especially the camaraderie that this community exemplifies. And the recognition, the identity, with a group of like minded people has been great.
In this polar world, it is rare to find a group of folks who are inherently positive. And that’s important to me. I am so grateful that I was accepted into the group and that I now have the environment in which to excel and improve my craft.
Our faith lives should be the same. We should be on the lookout for likeminded communities of people who provide encouragement, affirmation and education to advance our faith journey. Each of us wants to be part of a group where we are accepted without fear of criticism or made fun of for what we believe or have previously been exposed to. As Christians, we are to sharpen one another, help others to reach their God given potential and provide a safe environment to grow.
Not only that, but just like the pitmasters, God puts His mark on each of us – to identify us as one of His own. Tonight’s verse speaks about the people of God. The people of Israel were to remember their exodus from Egypt. After all, they were God’s chosen people. This event was to be marked by an annual remembrance and Moses tells us, in Exodus 13:9, “This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.” Notice the reference to the designation – the reminder on their foreheads and the sign on their hands. They were sealed by God – and that’s far more important that becoming a Pitmaster.
My encouragement this evening is that we should want to be marked by God. This identifies us as belonging to Him – a greater designation doesn’t exist. My prayer is that while we long to achieve things here on earth in our personal lives, it is far more important to lay up eternal treasures. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…