One of my favorite things about the Bible is that God so regularly uses the ordinary images in our world to teach us great lessons. Whether its a prophet in the Old Testament ripping up a new robe to teach an object lesson to a king-to-be, or even the Lord Jesus Christ who so regularly uses farming images to the people of His day. We are a visual people. One of the most common images that God uses for our good is bread.
I’ve always loved bread. I remember when as a child in New York City I would regularly go to the local corner store to pick up fresh Italian bread. There was nothing like it! It was fresh, with a crisp outer shell and soft innards. Bread was a way of life. It is no wonder then, that all these years later I’m still fascinated by it.
Recently, my wife and I have started our own sourdough starter. For those unfamiliar with this idea, my wife and I have spent the last couple of weeks harvesting the wild yeast found in unbleached flour, and have now created a viable source of yeast for our own dough projects. Especially with the shorter quantities of active yeast available it seemed like a great opportunity to fiddle with in the home.
Sadly however, our first bread attempt failed. Did I also mention my second bread experiment also failed? This was frustrating because I am not a novice with dough. I’ve spent the last couple of years working on a few bread and pizza dough recipes, which my family (and some friends) can confirm tastes rather delightful. So what was the issue? After further research it turns out that I failed to change my technique to meet the new baking circumstances. In other words, my old recipes didn’t work in light of my new circumstances.
What lessons can we learn from this sour dough starter? Sometimes the greatest evidence of life is that it stinks. Have you ever smelled a sour dough starter? I don’t recommend it. But it is that stench which is a reminder that something is at work which will inevitably produce something amazing and life-giving.
Our lives are always going to be riddled with difficulties and situations that stink. Yet their presence, rather than being a sign of death, are evidences of life. Rather than being arguments against God’s presence, our difficulties are often the greatest tools of God’s arsenal to draw us closer to Him.
Which of us would ever cry out to God if we always had our heart’s delight? Perhaps this is why Jesus taught in the parable of the sower that the one of the reasons people reject Him is “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19 ESV) Make no mistake about it you and I are rich. We have roofs over our heads. We have clean water. We have food and clothes. It is easy for us who are most comfortable to be most ungrateful when we have even the crumbs of discomfort placed before us.
Nevertheless, our present discomfort is useful because it reminds us that earth is not our home. Perhaps we have forgotten that. We’ve grown too comfortable. We’ve grown too content with our routine. The Christian’s great comfort is not in this life, but in what Christ has promised solely for those who’ve put their greatest hope and trust in Him. Even when life is hard, we ought to be drawn closer to Him, not further.
We certainly don’t know when life will be back to normal. But let us not use this season of discomfort foolishly. Let us not long for status quo. Let us instead use this time to realign our hearts and minds with that great reminder that this world was never our home. “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 ESV) Let us keep our eyes heavenward, and continue to march on for God has promised us in His Word that”no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV).
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