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Friday, April 22, 2016

A little leaven for our day

While I am not an avid baker, I do enjoy undertaking winter baking projects from time to time.  In the summer's of Arizona, we do as little to heat up the house as possible, so all morning baking projects are just not in the mix during those hot months!  I have never made a loaf of bread though, although I have watched others make it, observed cooking shows in which the technique is taught, etc.  I just haven't had the urge to undertake the project.  Maybe it is because I know I would like the warm, rich taste of that loaf freshly baked with just a little too much butter!  One thing I learned while watching those bread makers out there - a little "leaven" or "yeast" in the mix sure does a lot of work to make a pretty "benign" lump of dough rise to fluffy goodness!  It is a good illustration to us of how one right action can set off a chain reaction of "right actions"!

If the first and best of the dough you offer is sacred, the entire loaf will be as well. If the root of the tree is sacred, the branches will be also.  (Romans 11:16 VOICE)

I think this might just be why God asks us to stop in the morning for even a minute or two, to just center our thoughts on him, let him richly embrace us with his grace, and then begin our day's tasks.  When the first part of the "dough" is made well, the rest of the "dough" begins to be affected by that which was added in the beginning!  If we give God the first part of our day, chances are pretty good he will inhabit a great deal more of our day than just those few minutes.  Just as a tiny bit of yeast worked into the mixture of that bread becomes "active" in the period between being introduced, worked in, and then allowed to "sit and rise", so our lives can be impacted with that tiny infusion of his grace, goodness, and love each day.

I have a tree in the backyard which starts out the springtime season with green growth and the leaves fill the tree so well.  As the stress of the hotter season arrives, those leaves begin to turn a little yellow, falling from the tree and making the fullness of the tree a little less evident.  At first, the tree seems to flourish - because it is ready for the new growth and has been storing up all winter long to bring forth that new growth. Most of us start each new day the same way - we have been storing up all night to do whatever it is we need to accomplish today.  As with the tree, we begin with a gusto and enthusiasm which is evident in the work at hand.  As time begins to pass, the tiredness begins to set in - it is harder to sustain the same rate of growth as we did in the beginning.  Take heart - as with my tree, the beginning was strong, the roots are growing deeper, and the sustaining power of God's grace will get us through!

A little quote I came across might just give us a little encouragement today. Could I be bold as to ask you to use this as a prayer today?  In place of "Earth" could you substitute "God"?  I think it says it all pretty well:

Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.  (William Alexander)

In other words, we would pray something like:  God teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life (because it takes on a new form and a new path in life).  God teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall (because even loss holds a hope of new life coming again and give back even in their death).  God teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone (because although I feel alone, I know there are other trees left standing - I just may not see them right now). God teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring (because one tiny seed in your care can bring multiplied blessing we know nothing about right now).

The most important part of our passage today isn't that one life can affect a great many - although this is true.  It isn't that bread rises because of a tiny little bit of yeast added to the mixture - although this is quite true.  It isn't that a tree will grow strong when the roots are firmly planted and deep into the soil which gives it nourishment - although this also is true.  The thing we need to understand is this:  Begin well and we will end well!  We may show little signs of wear and tear along the way and not everything will be as perfect as we may have liked, but if we consistently begin well, that "beginning point" steers us in the right direction for finishing well.  It may not be the finish we imagined, but each day we get a little closer to that!  Just sayin!