Avery Island, Lousiana, is more a salt dome than an actual island, but it is surrounded on all sides by a salt marsh. That salt dome rises 165 feet, making it the highest point on the Gulf Coast. Before the Civil War, Edmund McIlhenny had a thriving business, with a sugar plantation and a salt-works. When the Civil War came, the salt became very valuable, and more than 22 million pounds of salt came from the island for the Confederate Army. Salt is still being mined there to this day.
That salt production attracted the attention of Union General Nathan P. Banks. In 1863, he led his troops up the bayou to Avery Island, where they burned 18 buildings, destroyed steam engines and mining equipment, and scattered the salt from more than 600 barrels awaiting shipment. There was literally nothing left.
When McIlhenny returned with his family in 1865, the sugar cane fields and salt-works were ruined. About the only things remaining were some hot Mexican peppers that had re-seeded themselves in the kitchen garden.
McIlhenny started experimenting with the peppers to make a sauce that would liven up his dull diet. Soon everyone in the area was clamoring for his pepper sauce, and not long after, he began shipping it around the country.
One hundred fifty years later, the McIlhenny family is still producing that original sauce, with very few modifications to the recipe. Up to 700,000 two-ounce bottles of Tabasco are produced every day! As one advertisement said years ago, Tabasco “should be on every well-appointed table.”
Don’t miss the importance of what happened in 1865. McIlhenny could have surveyed the damage and his loss, and moved elsewhere. But He decided to take what he had left, and make something wonderful out of it. What at first seemed to have destroyed his livelihood actually propelled him forward into a business that transformed his life and his family for many generations.
Let us all learn the Lesson of Avery Island. You may be going through something devastating. You world has been affected in ways that make you wonder if you can keep going. The Apostle Paul told the Philippians that the things that had happened to him had actually served to advance the gospel.
It is the same for us today. We don’t have to give in or give up. God can take what is left of our lives and do something so amazing, so beautiful, that we can’t even imagine it right now. Loss, heartache or grief can all be transformed by the power of God’s love. Turn it over to Him and allow Him to work His great purpose out for you.
--Rocky Henriques, www.uticabc.com