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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Something Somehow and Pay No Mind To The Dust

A “Come On In” sign painted askew on a slab of plywood hangs in the smudged window of a country general store that has weathered all; well-worn boots have scuffed the floor and yesterday’s conversations hang in the air as comfortably as dust floats in limpid streams of sunlight. Necessities for life are traded here, and this place fits me like the skin I live in.

“Come On In” hangs like an imperfect sign at the entrance to my heart. If my heart had a window, it would be a tad smudged because life settles a little dusty; and if my heart had a floor, it would be scuffed. There is light in my heart and conversations linger there. I know that my heart has a door and steps leading up to it because the steps are worn to the shape of His sandals and every day I hear the “Come On In” sign swing when He opens the door. He doesn’t knock as He did the first time He came in. He knows He’s welcome anytime.

He always brings good news, a little fun-loving mischief, and something to give. Today He asks me if I have a five-pound bag of wheat flour, knowing that I don’t. “And some honey?” He asks with an amused look in His eye. “Yeast and oil?” Is that sheer delight I detect in His expression?

I play along; shrug a smile, “I’m fresh out!”

“Hmm,” He rubs His chin. “Well, just so happens,” He bends down and hefts a sack of flour, jars of honey, yeast, and oil, “that I do!” He casually heaves them onto the counter top.

“Ready?” He asks expectantly.

“Ready.” I have no idea what I just agreed to, but I know it’s a good work that He has planned. A something-somehow work is what it will look like when I get in elbow deep.

I dissolve honey in a bowl of very warm water and add yeast. I watch the yeast sit and feed on the honey, bubble, foam, expand—alive and warm in the bowl. I bend over and wave my hand to stir yeasty fragrance up to my nose. I inhale the scent of what’s living right there in the bowl, what’s already rising.

Strange thing about yeast: it’s living, gives rise to bread. So why, I wonder, is it usually mentioned as a bad thing in Scripture? The bread is good. The risen Bread of Life is good. But the yeast?

“Bread can’t rise without yeast,” I say to the Bread of Life.

“I am risen,” He replies in this kitchen conversation.

And I feel like the two men on the road to Emmaus who recognized Jesus in the bread at the table that night after walking with Him all day. Something in the way He said it reminds me that He compares the kingdom of heaven to yeast.

I stare into the bowl, putting this together. The Bread of Life rose. The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that’s been measured into three measures of meal. The kingdom of heaven is filled with, what? Yeasty souls, risen. And just why, then, is the kingdom of heaven like the yeast the woman measured in till the bread rose?

“Could it be, Jesus,” I say slowly because I’ve never thought of this before, “that You say the kingdom of heaven is like yeast because yeast was required for You to rise? Your own Word speaks of yeast in terms of sin. Could it be the unleavened bread, the sinless one, took on the leaven, the sins of the world, to show the world what the kingdom of heaven is like? It’s where yeasty sinners receive full redemption, and You are Redeemer.”

The thought is fragile, like froth in a bowl. I don’t understand the whole of it, but there’s something redemptive about it that warms me as it bakes here in my heart.

I dip my finger into the honey and taste it, and isn’t Jesus sweet nourishment? I expand, feeling alive in the taste.

I measured out flour and salt hastily. I’m in a hurry now. I knead the warm dough till it’s all smooth and elastic and my hands hold the yeasty fragrance that reminds me of my mother and school days and the bread she baked. Her bread fresh out of the oven for slicing and buttering was the best thing to heal up anything that had happened in the classroom or hallway. The smell is still healing and comforting, redemptive—warm bread, risen bread.

I flip the switch on the Kitchen Aid with a tad too much vigor, and the whirling dough hook sends flour dust everywhere. I’m covered. The counter is covered. The dog at my feet jumps up and chases flour dust settling through the sunlight. Whatever good and perfect work Jesus has planned for me to do will most always look like a something-somehow, never-mind-me kind of work. I promise!

And I don’t mind. I’ve decided it’s best not to because the alternative, minding the dust while it settles, is frustrating.

So I don’t mind.

I progress slowly, and it comes to me like this. That this is what it’s all about. It’s the something-somehow process of a good work that Jesus comes inside to do.

He’s worn a path to my front door. When we walk it together, me throwing flour all over the kingdom, the path isn’t paved, and I’m not all assured knowing exactly what it’s all about. It’s more like a winding dirt road suited to slow travel and worn old boots that don’t mind kicking up dust. I don’t mind my feet being in those boots.

“It’s partly about not minding. Isn’t it?” I brush flour dust off my apron. “Is this part of it all? Not minding what it looks like when You come in and start making me bread?”

He’s quiet while the flour and my questions settle, and something sure and a little gritty rises in me, something yeasty and alive.

“I don’t mind looking like I really don’t know what I’m doing!” I step over the dog and reach for rag. “I don’t mind that most others would say: ‘What a mess of flour dust!’”

And I really don’t right now. I might later. The bread might not rise. Or it may come out full of air pockets. But right now my not minding isn’t me blowing off steam or a bunch of hot air. It’s real in this mess.

I tell Him so. “It’s real, You know! Real that I clearly don’t know exactly how to go about what You came inside to do. Real that I don’t mind.”

Yeah, I’m feeling kinda gritty right now, and maybe I’m rising too big for my bread pan, but I’m all yeasty alive. If the flour-covered dog could talk, she’d say, “Sit!” and then ask what this is all about.

“I don’t know exactly,” I say. The dog cocks her head, all question. “But it’s something, somehow.” I ask the Man, “Is this part of it?”

His eyes twinkle; He’s amused at me. And I’m drawn to Him because He’s just so relaxed about it all.

I brush flour off my face, and what I know for certain is that the old road to Emmaus was fit for dusty feet in worn shoes and two travelers who really didn’t know what it was all about. But the third did, and He knows what this is all about too.

The loaves are in the oven, and my kitchen smells divine. I fill the bowl with hot, soapy water and drop the dough hook in. Suds spray up and apart, and it’s time to listen.

I sit. “What’s this all about, Lord? The honey, oil, flour, and yeast. The flour dust. The bread?”

“It’s about three-day old bread resurrected and served fresh. It’s about living bread rising in you while I ignite your heart until it burns within you. It’s about opening the door of your oven-like heart and My essence wafting from there. And it’s about presenting the loaf to others and serving Me to them, fresh.”

“Hmm.” I pull the loaves out. I slice the bread thick and inhale its steaming fragrance. “Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (Luke 24:30).

I hold it in my open hands. He serves the bread, His body.

I serve this bread to my family at the table because it’s about being served the bread and serving His body. It’s about knowing Him in the breaking of bread and not minding what it looks like because it’s messy business.

And it’s always still about Jesus coming in, that “Come On In” sign. It’s about something alive and somehow risen and not minding the flour dust kicked up along the way of the bread.

And it’s about being at the table with family and saying, “Hang the sign up, and keep it up. He’ll come inside and give you what you don’t have. Bread to serve bread.”

He’ll come inside to do something somehow, and pay no mind to the dust.
Never mind that you won’t get what it’s all about.
Just don’t mind all that.
You’ll know Him in the bread.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig
(adapted from my book, PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart)

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