A parable of the bread

You know those renovation shows that take fixer upper houses and completely redo them to make beautiful houses?

Well, if I’ve learned anything from them, it’s that renovations normally take longer than expected and they can be difficult.

WALLS
Yep, renovations can reveal ugly things underneath the floorboards, unstable supports and poor wiring. Rarely do you see a beautiful new house undergoing renovation.

Now, I know we’d all like to think we’re the beautiful mansion that doesn’t need any additional work, but I doubt that’s the case. Because most of us — like King David, who wrote the Psalm below — mess up and realize we need some help.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” — Psalm 51:10

I heard something the other day that completely stuck with me: Renew = Renovate.

Sometimes, we need to undergo some renovations — in the way we think, the way we act, the way we speak.

Because maybe while we’ve been busy living our lives, some mold has starting growing in the rafters of our minds and has contaminated our dreams and desires. Maybe some carpenter ants have been chewing away at our hearts and weakening our discretion and resolve. And so, it becomes time for a renewing, a renovation.

“And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” — Romans 12:2a

As we know from most fixer upper renovations, that transformation and renovation process — and the waiting for the renovation to be done — can be painful.

But let me tell you a story.

On Tuesday, I made bread. Yep, homemade bread. I had to prove the yeast, which meant pouring it in warm water and waiting for it to become active. I had to knead, pound, press and mold the dough, constantly flipping it and disturbing it — all to prepare and develop the gluten.

After kneading the dough and placing it in a bowl, I had to wait for it to rise. An hour later, it was time for… more kneading! Punch. Press. Flip. Repeat.

Then, more waiting. Until finally! it was time to bake.

But baking, of course, requires extreme heat. Thirty-five minutes of sitting on a metal rack, waiting in uncomfortable, almost unbearable, heat.

Why did this loaf of bread endure all of that?

Well, without going through that entire process, the loaf of bread would still be individual ingredients, waiting to fulfill their purpose. It took the process of transformation in the creator’s hands to become something more.
Bread

The same applies to us when we submit to God’s will for us.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable. It might not go according to our plans. We might still be waiting for something. And every now and then, it feels like we’re getting punched in the gut, only to be thrown into scorching fire.

But Romans 12:2 doesn’t just speak of transformation and renewing without any purpose. No, it speaks of promise.

“And don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you might prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.” — Romans 12:2

Just like I had to prove the yeast for it to become active, the waiting and change that comes with renovation will ultimately prove and activate God’s will for us.

And so, I’ll leave you with this reminder that has been a pretty good reminder for me: “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” — Psalm 37:5

My response to hate: Unfailing love

Love

I think it’s an understatement to say the world is a pretty depressing place right now.

Each day, we’re besieged with news of terrible occurrences seeping with so much hate, pain and death. It’s hard to keep from being weighed down by it all (and I know I have barely the slightest of an inkling of an idea of what some people experience in their day-to-day lives).

Not to get all hippy-dippy on you, but it makes me realize the importance of love. Not just an exclusive love for certain people that we’ve grown to like and accept. Not just a love for people similar to us. Not just a fleeting love for Klondike Bars and Cheetos.

Unfailing love.

For every person.

And let me say I know there is nobody on earth that can have completely unfailing love.

Let me also say I know there is a God that is unfailing love.

Before anybody scoffs at me and exits this tab, please, just read on.

Jesus loves every single person no matter what. It doesn’t matter what family we’ve been born into, what country we originate from, what we look like, what we’ve done in the past or whether we like Star Wars or not.

Jesus still loves us.

But He didn’t just love us from afar. He wanted us to personally experience that unfailing love. So, He made a way for that to happen.

Jesus entered this world only to face the hate, shame, discrimination, rejection and pain of a world that wanted Him dead — the same hate and discrimination that so many people still face today. And you know what? The world got its way and killed Him. It seemed that hate and death would win.

Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb, though. He rose again to live. By living, He defeated death, hate, shame and pain. In their stead, He offered unfailing love and abundant life to each one of us. And, in turn, He gave us hope.

But we can’t just take those gifts of unfailing love and hope and hoard them selfishly for ourselves. We need to extend those gifts to everyone else.

In a world that’s so enveloped in anger and pain, how much of an impact can one welcoming, encouraging and loving act be?

In a world so entrenched in darkness, how much more can one light shine and welcome the people around it?

Even when the world does its best to make us think hate is pulling ahead, let me remind you of something:

Love already won.

And it’s unfailing love.

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Note: My inspiration for this post was from Psalm 69:13