Sunday, July 29, 2012

Somebody, Turn the Heat Down! What One Loaf of French Bread Taught Me About Life Part Four

The Oven

There are seasons in my life when I feel like I've already been through sooo much and nothing in my pitiful existence could possibly get worse, when something worse actually does happen!

The dough has already been through so much change. The unrelated ingredients that don't even like each other were forced into homogeneous glob that was pounded into oblivion and then left to sit idly for what seems like an eternity. When there was a clear sign of undeniable success, the dough got put back in its place by being punched down again until it collapsed in a heap to the bottom of the bowl. Then, it was pounded again, and again and again, ripped apart, rolled around and left alone to wait for another idle eternity! How would that make you feel?!!!

When the preheated oven door was open, the loaves should have taken their clue and run for their lives!

But, that would sabotage their very purpose of existence, make the entire process meaningless and all the effort would have been wasted! For, bread (or rather, dough) is not truly edible until it is baked.

Inside the oven, the temperature always feels too hot and time always feels too long. But, the dough has absolutely no say in determining the length of stay or the temperature inside the oven. The Baker does.

Oven is the battlefield of unconditional surrender. End of all words. End of all protests. End of all talk, blaming and excuses. It is the place of silence where we know that our sovereign, omnipotent God is fully capable to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, and yet, even if He doesn't, the fact of His sovereignty, omnipotent rule and loving-kindness remains unaltered.

In the oven, I agree with God that He is God and I am not. He knows, I don't. Here my experiences, gifts, reputation - all that I know and have ever known about myself, this world and the God I serve are put to the test and I am asked to make a simple choice: His wisdom or mine? His timing or mine? His way or mine? His will or mine?

Inside this death chamber of hell, the miracle of transformation takes place. The gooey, flabby inedible dough at just the right time - not too soon, not too late - becomes a delicious loaf baked to perfection, crunchy crust on the outside, soft and melty on the inside.

The oven door opens, the loaves are taken out, spreading the tantalizing smell throughout the house. They are ready, at last, to be broken (more pain - but this pain is sweet!), buttered and enjoyed. For, the purpose of the bread is not so that we can put it on a counter, write about it, take the pictures and post them on a blog. The bread is baked to be broken, and shared, given away for the nourishment to all who wish to partake, giving thanks to the One who alone can transform the simple ingredients of our lives into food for the nations.

Lord Jesus, You are the true bread of life. You alone satisfy the deepest hunger of our hearts - every day. We try so hard to satisfy this glutton inside us by everything else and come away even more empty. Turn our hearts, Lord, away from the things that satisfy not and feed our souls with Your very self, for we have tasted and seen that You, indeed, are good. Amen.

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