I am now the proud owner of a living, growing SCOBY. For the un-informed a scoby is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Say what? And begs the question, WHY? A scoby is this weird and mysterious growth that looks gross but is fundamental to making kombucha, a fermented beverage that touts many health benefits.
This summer my daughter got me hooked on drinking the stuff. It’s trendy for sure, and an acquired taste. I’ve grown to love it, though, and have been drinking it ever since. But at $3-5.00 each, while better for me than a fancy Starbucks drink, it has become a luxurious habit I can’t sustain.
My very own scoby
A newly retired friend of mine began making his own kombucha and today gifted me with an offspring of his prized scoby. Because of his mastery of the process, his ‘mother’ scoby has reproduced. He sent me home with a few cautionary tips on how to keep it content and growing.
Driving home with a large jug of precious liquid over the twenty plus speed bumps between his home and mine, was my first test. While I’m appreciative, this living baby scoby entrusted to me borders on my threshold of just too much responsibility. As it is, I feel some pressure to not kill the poor thing.
Soooo I’ve taken my friends cautions to heart and added some additional youtube training. The conclusion I have come to is that for a scoby to remain content and growing it needs the right environment. How hard can that be?
And that got me to thinking…
Isn’t that true for us too? To be content and growing we too, need the right environment.
Dating back to bible times, Israel has always had a reputation for a turbulent environment, NOT a calm and peaceful place. Even today that reputation is well-deserved. Ironic isn’t it that in Israel the common greeting for both coming and going is Shalom.
Shalom is a Hebrew word that means “peace,” but our word peace is not enough to describe the wonder of shalom.
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Shalom means contentment, well-being, prosperity and blessing, not simply the absence of conflict. With Shalom everything is working the right way, “in perfect peace.” When living with Shalom you’re following God which ensures rest for your soul, confidence in your mind, joy in your heart, harmony in your relationships, and purpose for your walk. When you say “Shalom” to someone, you are saying: “May you have this kind of peace.” Doesn’t that sound more substantial than “Hi” and “See you later”?
This kind of peace does not come from our own efforts. It can’t be manufactured with enough positive thinking. Isaiah reminds us that real peace, the perfect peace that supports us through tough circumstances and even conflict in our world, comes from a deep, abiding love for God and a complete trust in Him.
Our crucial environment
That’s it! Shalom describes the crucial environment that we all desperately need to be content and growing. When we live in Shalom we are at peace with God, (Psalm 85:8) at peace with each other, and at peace with ourselves(Psalm 4:8). Shalom provides a layer of protection that not even tough circumstances can disrupt. And from that place of untouchable contentment, we’re compelled to look beyond ourselves.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Shalom’s byproduct is a heart of gratitude. And gratitude is at the root of all fruit. Shalom is analogous to the vine mentioned in the new testament in John 15:5.
John 15:5 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The Ten Lepers, Luke 17
Do you know the remarkable story of the ten lepers in Luke 17? Jesus heals them simultaneously. He simply commands the sad lot to “Go, show yourselves to the priest.” Without any fanfare they exit the scene and presto, their skin is restored. Unbelievable! Pause for a moment and let that sink in. Sadly, though, what was unbelievable to Jesus, was the lack of gratitude from all but one of the former lepers.
Only one, takes the time to turn around and thank Him. 1 out of 10. A measly ten percent. Would that have been you? I bet the one thankful leper lived with Shalom.
This week we celebrate thanksgiving. In spite of our American consumerism and the encroachment of Black Friday, at its core, thanksgiving remains a day to give thanks, a day to count our blessings and take inventory of all we have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to look beyond ourselves.
Be honest. Does gratitude come naturally to you? How about when the storm clouds hover? Or in the busy-ness of life when it’s NOT thanksgiving? In my experience, you can muscle through with thankfulness for a short while, but you can’t sustain it outside of shalom. Circumstances will undermine your grateful heart. For some there is relief that thanksgiving is just once a year.
Gratitude in your own strength works as well it does for a scoby that was yanked out of its jug of fermenting tea. It withers and dies. This is consistent with the caution in John 15:5, apart from me you can do nothing.
Shalom changes us
Shalom produces humility because we recognize our God-given neediness. From a place of humility, we look beyond ourselves and gratitude naturally flows. Humility is the honest recognition that all of our blessings are a gift and not earned. It understands how utterly dependent we are before a Holy Soveriegn God.
I believe with Shalom, thanksgiving becomes a mindset for everyday not just one Thursday each year.
My scoby’s progress
I’ve cared for my scoby for five days now. Every time I look at that jug of fermenting tea I am reminded of the importance of it’s environment. And I’m pleased to report that I must be doing something right because for now, my scoby is content because it’s growing. May I be as mindful of my own environment.
The bonus is when I live with Shalom, a grateful heart is a natural by-product. Thanksgiving doesn’t take effort. Joy spills over. I’m compelled to be the one, and turn around and thank Jesus.
I want to be the one. Do you?
Shalom and Happy Thanksgiving,