A very popular maxim says, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”  Of course a lemon is a metaphor for something or some experience that is bitter, disagreeable, broken or painful.  Lemonade, however, is refreshing, sweet and pleasant.  The idea is that one can take something negative and even harmful and turn it into something positive and useful.

In any given week your elders will see many lemons in the lives of the flock, but enough lemonade to fill the baptistery.  This gives us great joy. (Heb 13:17) To the lemon (a sinful, rebellious life) has been added the healing water of immersion (Acts 8:36-39) (1 Pe 3:21) and the sweet sugar of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) (Eph 3:16) which has produced a totally new concoction, a new self. (Rom 6:3-6)

This process of changing the horrible to something positive has been going on for a long time.  Consider Job, “…the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3) Satan afflicted him with, “…painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:7) after having ruined his wealth and killing his children. (Job 1:13-19) Bitter lemons indeed!  But Job put the water of acceptance and worship (Job 1:20-21) to the sugar of integrity (Job 2:9) and made the wonderful lemonade of a life more blessed than before. (Job 42:12-17)

A somewhat similar experience took place in the life of Saul/Paul in the New Testament.  Saul was a devout Jew and zealous for the Old Law.  He was an extremely bitter lemon for the church at Jerusalem, trying to destroy it by imprisoning men and women. (Acts 8:3) (Gal 1:13) But after his conversion to  Christ, (Acts 9:1-5 & 18) he was soon to be called Paul (Acts 13:9) and to suffer many lemon-like experiences of his own. (2 Cor 11:23-28) He added the water of forgiveness (Acts 22:16) to the sugar of sacrifice, service and fellowship (2 Cor 6:3-13) and was able to enjoy the final lemonade (a reward in heaven). (2 Cor 5:1)

Into every life some lemons must fall.  Satan will throw them like hand grenades—grief, sorrow, pain, disappointment, bankruptcy, accidents, illnesses, divorce, betrayal and more. They will often come in all sizes and in unexpected ways.  We can ignore them, step on them or throw them at other people. Or we can use them to change things. How we choose to use them will make all the difference.

                                                                              –Jim Bailey