By Michelle Welch
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
When we were in Arizona, we visited an original homestead on the Navajo reservation. Behind the house was a bread-making oven. Outside, in the elements, women made bread for their families. I pondered the impact of that oven. How much effort to make just one loaf of bread. Did they make dozens of loaves all at one time? Where did they store it? Did they eat it warm from the oven, slathered with butter and jam? (Hey, it’s my pondering!!!) What did it take to learn to build the fire correctly and keep the temperature steady? When they were traveling, did they bake extra to carry along for the journey?
Bread is spoken of often in the Bible. It is what the Lord sent from heaven to keep the Israelites from starving in the wilderness. It is what Satan tempted Christ with on the mountain. It is what Christ fed the multitudes with when He taught them the gospel. Through His words, we have received the Bread of Life. When we take communion, we eat bread in similitude of His sacrifice for us. Yet how often do we dismiss bread as a common item in our life? How often do we buy the cheapest version? Do we even know how to make bread anymore?
There is something soothing about making bread. I learned it from my mother. She learned it from her mother. Bread making was a weekly and daily event. Bread on Mondays and biscuits every morning. The smell of that yeasty goodness and the feel of the dough as I kneaded it out on the table was comforting. In the mornings, I knew that momma’s biscuits would be waiting. Warm cinnamon rolls, puffy dinner rolls, and pizza dough all came from the magical place that was my mother’s kitchen. The lessons I learned as we stirred and punched and shaped that dough all had lasting impacts on my life. It wasn’t just the bread. It was the wisdom I learned from her while making it.
Bread is a simple thing. Yet so complex in it’s making. It scares most women. I have friends who don’t even own bread pans. These days, bread is as simple as pulling it off a shelf and throwing it in the cart. Biscuits are what you buy from McDonalds and pizza comes up the walk to your front door. Sharing kitchen time with daughters often consists of which box to open or which bag to pull out of the freezer. Cooking together has become a lost art.
I thought of how often we treat the gospel of Jesus Christ that way. It’s very easy these days to just pull it off a shelf, out of a box, or google it. I myself have caught myself taking the quick way. Instead of pulling out the cookbook (the Bible), gathering up the ingredients (the scriptures), pulling out the bowls and pans needed to mix and cook in (marking pens, journal, study books), and turning on the oven (stepping out in faith), we take the loaf off the shelf that someone else made and store it in a box on the counter. If we need a scripture, we click a few keys and up pops the perfect scripture for our problem. We don’t know what it feels like to bury our hands deep in the warm, yeasty dough. We haven’t learned the feeling of accomplishment when the bread rises over the edge of the bowl or the satisfaction of punching it down. This holiday season, let us recommit to getting our hands deep into the bread of Life. Let us start from scratch and use all the basic ingredients. Let the smell of that bread permeate the entire house and when it is done, let us share it with our friends and neighbors. There is always enough of the Bread of Life to share.
And as for the regular stuff? Give it a try. I promise. It’s not as hard as you would imagine. Start small. Buy a frozen loaf and bake it in your own bread pan. With a little jam and a lot of butter, you will think you are in Heaven. Not a bad place to be!!
Copyright © 2012, Michelle Welch, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Bible scripture taken from NIV