Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kneading the Dough

Oh, my goodness, has it ever been a rough couple of weeks for the Logan house. 

And I do, truly, mean the house.  As far as the family goes, we've all been great.  The house...not so much.  In the last three weeks the oven has stopped working, a piece inside one of our toilets broke, the clothes dryer has started overheating, and my computer tried not to reboot one evening.  The oven has since been replaced, the toilet fixed, and the demon has been cast out of my computer.  (Seriously!)  We're still working on the clothes dryer.

By the way, can you imagine the pile of laundry that will be waiting for me after a week of having no dryer?  Even though I've made some emergency trips to use a friend's, I'm growing quite a mountain around our hamper! 

But I digress...

Today I loaded up the automatic bread machine with all the ingredients for tonight's pizza crust and whadya know....it won't work.  It seems the mechanism that spins the mixer paddle has rusted together and will.not.budge.

Which means I got to knead the dough by hand.

Hurray.

Not exactly how I planned to spend that part of my afternoon.  A quick nap on the couch while the machine did all the work sounded like a much better idea to me.

But since the dough won't knead itself, I set to work.

As I stood in the kitchen turning and pushing into the dough, I started thinking about all the pressures that are pushing on me this week: financial burdens (especially considering all the repairs around the house lately!), my part-time job, keeping up with the housework, teaching my piano students, four kids and all that comes with being their mother, all the writing I need to do for the Women's Encounter ministry...  It feels like life is pushing against me as firmly as I was pushing against the dough!

I thought about those things as I watched the bread dough take shape beneath my hands, the texture begin to change under the repeated pressure of the kneading.  And of course I began to contemplate how God was using life's pressures to change me.

You see, we -- like bread -- start out with just a few simple "ingredients."  But as God mixes those together in perfect proportion and begins to apply pressure, we begin to change.  Over time, we continue to change and grow, just like the dough as it begins to rise.  And as life applies "heat," we become a new, wonderful creation when we remain strong in our faith.

1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

Trials, stress, adversity...they don't feel especially wonderful.  In fact, sometimes they feel downright painful.   But they are in no way more than we can bear when lean on God our Father as our life support.  And we really can be glad for those trials when we see that God is using them to perfect our faith in Him.  Sometimes -- many times, even -- it takes trials to stimulate growth in us just like the kneading of the dough stimulates the yeast.  If we just threw the flour and yeast and all the other ingredients in the bowl and walked away, we'd come back to find it just how we left it -- a mess in a bowl!  But when we begin to apply the pressure of mixing and kneading, it grows into this beautiful loaf of bread.

Let your trials grow YOU into the beautiful creation God intends for you to be.

All of this, just because my bread machine wouldn't work today...

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