I could smell smoke as soon as I walked into the house. Thankfully, nothing was on fire. It was just my wife, seasoning a cast iron pan.

Oh, of course. Seasoning a cast iron pan.

Wait. What?

Chefs in the know know it’s a no-no to cook on cast iron that hasn’t been seasoned. Pretty much everything will stick to the porous surface. So to make the pan more impervious to scrambled eggs, pancake batter, and rust, you season it.

It’s an intricate process in which you warm the pan, rub cooking oil into the surface, then heat it in an oven. Of course, there is science behind seasoning. When you heat oil to the “smoke point” — that’s the point at which your entire house fills with smoke — the oil bonds with the cast iron and creates a smoother, rust-resistant surface.

Who knew?

My wife knew. And now she’s cooking up all sorts of things on cast iron, without baking on a mess you need a jackhammer to remove. For someone looking to simplify cooking and cleanup on cast iron, that smoking point is the acrid smell of victory.

Seasoning is a good way to look at some of the fiery situations we face. Those times we find ourselves in the oven, tested to the end of our strength — our own personal smoke points.

A coworker who slanders our name and sets fire to our reputation. A neighbor who watches your every move for some violation of the housing association code. Maybe even a friend who turns against you after a heated disagreement.

We all have our “smoke point.” What if those times are God’s way of seasoning His children?

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad — for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)

The author of those words was a seasoned follower of Jesus. Peter had suffered ridicule and punishment from religious leaders and eventually was crucified for his faith in Jesus. Since he was seasoned, the persecution didn’t “stick” to him. The forces of nature didn’t rust out His resilience. Instead, the taunts were baked right into his conscience, making him a “partner with Christ in His suffering.”

The founder of Christianity was seasoned in fire. He was beaten, rejected, and ultimately executed. His suffering was His seasoning.

Through His own bloody death, He became impervious to death.

Jesus gives the same cast-iron kind of life to those who surrender to Him. It is free. But not without seasoning. That’s why Peter told first century Christians they shouldn’t be surprised by their fiery trials.

And neither should we. If you want to follow Jesus, people will try to smoke you out.

But our smoking point can be a point of strength when we choose to see it as God’s way of bonding us together with Jesus and His suffering. Just as a well-seasoned pan comes out of the fire ready for anything the chef may throw at it, so does the well-seasoned person.

— Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna. Reach him at gmadsen@steadfastgret na.org

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