Buttermilk and Grace


My parents owned a farm in a rural area of Southwest Virginia. There was no electricity in most rural areas back then, and our water came from a well. Our family had cows, horses, hogs, chickens, ducks, a few geese and turkeys, and sometimes a goat or two. We also had lots of fruit trees, such as apples, pears, plums, and persimmons. We had a briar field of black berries and raspberries. We also had a grape harbor and a strawberry patch.

Farm work is hard work, and usually the children were involved as soon as they were old enough to help. We had a springhouse where we kept our milk in crocks set on rock pebbles in the cold mountain water. Each day, Mother kept some of the milk in the kitchen in a tall crock we called a churn. Because the milk was kept warm in the kitchen, it would become sour and clabber. Oh, you may not have ever seen clabbered milk, or know what it is. We are living in the modern days of technology when butter and buttermilk are made by commercial machinery in dairy plants. I don't know the process they use, but the buttermilk doesn't have the same taste as that good old country buttermilk of long ago.

When our milk soured and clabbered, it was solid instead of liquid. Also, you may have never seen a churn and dash. If you have, you were looking at an antique. I haven't seen one in many years. A churn is a tall, slender crock that is larger at the bottom, with a wooden dash. Its lid recessed into the top of the churn with a hole in the center for the dask. The dash was a long stick, similar to a broom stick, with 2 flat wooden pieces on one end that crossed each other. To churn, the dash was lifted up and put down with some force to beat the milk. How would you like to do this for about an hour? It's enough to give you lots of muscles! Literally, you beat the butter out of the milk. When the churning was finished, the butter went to the top of the milk, to be gathered off the milk, put in a container, and put in the cold water of the springhouse to make it more solid. We had butter molds to mold the butter into pounds and serve.

It was my job to churn the milk. One day when I was churning, my arms got tired, and I wanted my brother, Richard to help me. Mother wouldn't make him because he was a boy and my parents didn't believe in boys doing housework. When Mother left the kitchen I tried to make him help me. I chased him around the kitchen, and as I grabbed him we hit the churn and turned it over. The lid fell off and we lost all the milk and butter, across the kitchen floor! This was a farmhouse with unfinished wooden floors. What a mess! Mother got little switches to whip us, and as she brought the switches in, we saw Daddy coming in from the corn field up the hollow.

Mother hid her switches behind the cupboard and told Daddy that SHE turned the churn over, because she knew he would whip us very hard for such an act! Daddy had a bad temper, and when he got angry, we all knew about it! This was before my father was saved, and God's grace had not tamed him yet.

Mother took the blame for us. She paid the price -- the name calling, the ugly words, the ridicule, the fussing, belittling, the angry remarks, -- she took it all! And never said a word back! She not only took the blame, but had to clean up the terrible mess for us -- alone! She paid our father's penalty for our sins!

Now, isn't that what Jesus did? We were guilty of sin, disobedience to God, and we were headed for hell as punishment for our sins, when Jesus took the blame for our sins upon himself. He came to this earth to go to a cross and pay our sin debt, so we could be saved from the penalty of our sins. He took the name calling, the ugly words, the ridicule, the beating, the denial that He was the Son of God, the betrayal with a kiss from one He had chosen to be His disciple and His friend, as He went to the cross to die for us! He took the belittling, even the crown of thorns, as He carried His own cross up Calvary's hill, to suffer and pay the penalty for my sins and yours! He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us so we could be made righteous before God.

(2nd Cor. 5:21) Isa. 53:5 says "He was wounded for OUR transgressions, He was bruised for OUR iniquities." V.6 says "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." V.12 says He bore OUR sins and made intersession for us. And who can't be touched by the great message in John 3:16!

This incident in the lives of my brother, Mother and me is a picture of what Jesus did for lost and hell-bound humanity, though it's extremely insignificant to what Jesus did for us! My brother and I sinned. We were guilty, We deserved punishment, but Mother took that guilt, that punishment, that penalty, and bore it for us!

Edna Weaver, Bristol, Tennessee weaver334@charter.net

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