Bread dough the color of molasses yielded to the pressure of my working fist. Fold, press, turn, repeat, and soon I lost count of how many times I had kneaded the fragrant lump. With the recipe calling for three hundred repetitions, I began to wonder… Three hundred? Really?
Switching to the heel of my hand, I persevered. Eventually, I sensed a change in the texture and smooth elasticity as the gluten developed the necessary strands that would capture the gas bubbles created by the yeast, allowing the dough to stretch and expand as it rose.
Bread-makers want to create the conditions for the dough to rise, but we are completely helpless to make it happen on our own, so we trust the recipe. We follow the directions given.
Reading the Bible and kneading bread as purely physical acts could easily become sheer discipline, items on a never-ending checklist. However, viewed with an awareness of the invisible, life-giving force at work behind the scenes, I find that I am participating in something that is bigger than what I can see.
Follow the Recipe
Therefore, I will follow the teaching of God’s Word, because I am in relationship with its Author—not because I fear losing that relationship. I will persevere in the disciplines of the Christian life, because I am held in a hope that is based on strong promises—not because I am hoping that the disciplines themselves will hold me in the faith.
Needless to say, in the making of bread and in the practice of godliness, I will always be a beginner, mechanically counting the strokes as I knead (and then losing count); reading words of life at the dining room table, fitfully on some days and fervently on others.
Jesus, the Bread of Life, comes to us as we take the Living Word into our being in a way that changes us. God directed both Jeremiah and Ezekiel to eat Scripture, the Old Testament equivalent of the Bible. In the book of Revelation, John swallowed a scroll. Absorbing the truth into their cells and sinews, they imaged the necessity of assimilating God’s Words, taking them into the soul.
My imperfectly executed commitment to follow God is based on true words that seek to describe but in no way explain his glory. Faithfully meeting with God, holding to the written Word, and holding myself before it has looked different in every season of my life. There is no secret formula and no “perfect” method. The point is to make it happen.
Faithfully meeting with God, holding to the written Word, and holding myself before it has looked different in every season of my life. There is no secret formula and no “perfect” method. The point is to make it happen.Tweet
There Is No “Perfect” Recipe
Propping a Bible on a couch pillow while I held a sleeping baby and cobbling together study time during naps eventually gave way to keeping a bag packed with Bible, pen, and notebook during the mini-van years. I reviewed Scripture memory projects in the middle school parking lot.
Later, I carried 3×5 cards in my pocket when I walked the dog. Today, I plant Post-it Notes in my planner and review memorized passages in the car on my way to work.
In a perfect world, a serious Bible student blocks out distractions and finds a regular time to meet with God daily. In a mother’s world, the serious student is responsible for keeping those “distractions” alive, so she perseveres in being flexible in every season.
My regular reading tends to focus on short passages read repetitively. For example, it might take me the better part of a year to make it through Proverbs, one chapter per week, but this year, I am reading through the Bible to gain an aerial view of the biblical landscape.
Study and meditation go together whenever I am preparing to teach. I read and seek to understand the words as they were received by the original audience. I consider how they relate to Jesus’s person and work, how they apply to the Captial C Church, and, finally, how to make personal application.
Immersion in Scripture is the foundation by which I resist temptation, cynicism, and passiveness. I declare that God owns my heart and create space for the Spirit of God to work in ways that are unseen and yet vital to the regular rhythm of relationship.
I long to know God, to walk in his ways and hear his voice, and he has made it clear that when I read and obey the Words of Scripture, I am obeying Him and making room for the Spirit to work in me. Therefore, I trust “the recipe.” I follow the directions given.
Holding you in the Light,
In a perfect world a serious Bible student blocks out distractions to meet with God daily. In a mother’s world the serious student is responsible for keeping those “distractions” alive so she perseveres in flexibility in every season.Tweet
How Will You Come Close to God in the Days Leading up to Easter? (Here’s a FREE Resource to Help…)
February 22 is Ash Wednesday, the day on the church calendar that ushers us into Lent and our pondering of Christ’s great work on the cross. Every year, I appreciate this work of the heart that prepares me for a true celebration of resurrection on Easter Sunday.
As a gift to my newsletter subscribers, I’ve created a collection of 20 devotional readings called Come Close to the Story. If you’re already a subscriber, just sit tight and it will land in your email inbox on February 16, the Third Thursday of the month.
If you’re not already a subscriber, this Lenten season I invite you to join me for a daily pause—most readings should take five minutes or less—to come close to the story. In your busy life, remember that Easter is on its way. Affirm your belief in resurrection power, and then admit that without a death, there would be no resurrection.
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13 thoughts on “Create the Right Conditions for Spiritual Growth: Trust the Recipe”
Thank you for this metaphor, Michele. I love baking bread and I’ll forever remember this. I’ve even shared this with our read the the Bible group at our church.
I’m so glad you found it helpful and that you thought it would be meaningful to your group!
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Always a beginner. That’s the attitude I want to maintain as well. It keeps us open to learning and growing more!
As much as I love eating homemade bread, I’ve never gotten into making it. I’m grateful for those of you who do! 🙂
I try to make homemade bread ONLY when I know that there will be plenty of people around to help us eat it! 🤣
I love this, Michele. It’s true that different seasons, or even days in a week, my time with God’s Word may look a little different. But it is so important to regularly spend time with it. And I love the point that we do it *because* we have a relationship with Him.
We so easily fall into a pattern of earning. And I do wonder if the reason so many women bail on regular Bible reading is that they feel as if they’re not doing it “right.”
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Oh Michele! This is so true and perfectly said! :. ‘In a mother’s world, the serious student is responsible for keeping those “distractions” alive, so she perseveres in being flexible in every season’. I did not do so well with the distracted years of mothering but am grateful God kept our relationship intact and that now I am able to devote focused unhurried time. It is a sweet gift for the ‘aging’ 😄
Yes, we are much more culpable and accountable for our use of time!
God definitely did a lot of holding for me as well. Very grateful!
Once the habit of quiet time is established (maybe a few months in?), we find ourselves craving more, wanting to set aside MORE time! For most of my adult life, that meant getting up before everyone else in the house. It was NOT a hardship; I just went to bed earlier than most of my contemporaries. I reveled in that peaceful God-and-me time. When our three children were in the afternoon nap routine, I used that time for Bible study and prayer. BUT! I must admit when those children were infants and refused to sleep, quiet time was a catch-as-catch-can proposition. So I say “Amen” to the grace you bestowed on young mothers here! I don’t think our Heavenly Father frowns upon flexibility in that difficult season.
I wish I had taken some of that grace myself so I want to share God’s heart—he “gently leads those that are with young.” The Good Shepherd doesn’t drive his sheep. He’ll be there waiting whenever we turn in his direction and he knows our motives.
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I enjoyed this peek into your Bible study patterns over the years and seasons, Michele. So much grace here: “There is no secret formula and no “perfect” method. The point is to make it happen.” Also, did I tell you I’ve made your wheat bread a few times? So good. And SO much easier with the stand mixer. Although I suppose that messes a bit with the kneading metaphor. 🙂
Glad that recipe is working for you! I got a stand mixer this winter and find that I miss the sensation of kneading…