I love bread. In the winter, when big, giant snow flakes fall onto the cold ground, the experience of making homemade cinnamon craisin bread just speaks my heart language. I enjoy every piece of it, putting the ingredients into the bread maker with my 6 year old son, watching his excitement as he pushes the button to start the baking, and letting the smell of fresh bread fill the house while the steam from the bread maker fogs the windows.
Or how about sourdough? One of my dear, dear former students, Mic, is now a baker by profession. And LET. ME. TELL. YOU, THAT BOY CAN BAKE!!! I remember grabbing bagels with him occasionally at our local Bagel shop in Greeley and that place has got NOTHING on Mic. If you are ever in Washington State, go find him and go to the bakery he works at sometime, I promise you it will be worth it. But if there is one thing I crave from his baking more than any other tasty treat it is his sourdough bread. It is melt-in-your-mouth good. Sitting outside on a warm summer day with just a gentle breeze eating a sandwich with his fresh out-of-the-oven sourdough is a little piece of heaven.
And let’s talk about those fall “wear a cute scarf and sweater but no need for a jacket” days. After going on a walk and crunching in the leaves with my daughter in the lovely months of fall, nothing beats ending the moment with walking in to my warm house with the just finished baking pumpkin chocolate chip bread being pulled out of the oven by my husband and then sitting down to have a slice.
I am telling you, I really do enjoy bread! I tell you this because of all the verses that have been part of my journey as of late, I find myself sitting in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and the Gospels where they talk about bread. I read Exodus 16 where the Israelites were grumbling against their leaders and against God for taking them out of slavery only to seemingly leave them without food. I ponder Deuteronomy 8:3 where the Israelites are being reminded of how the LORD has taken care of his people though 4o years of wandering and being without “real” food by providing flakes of manna each morning for all those years. I contemplate Matthew 4 and Luke 4 where Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days without food and then was tempted by Satan to just eat some bread.
Bread! The real, honest truth is that while I really do like bread, if I needed to I could live without it (probably…maybe…I think). But more than just my love for bread is the desire to know that I will be provided for, taken care of. See bread represents physical needs being met, bread is a tangible way of knowing you aren’t going to die from starvation.
A year ago, my husband and I took a running jump off a vocational cliff. In faith and an act of obedience I told my office leadership that I felt I was only supposed to stay in my role for one more year. Then, the Lord took my husband down a similar road and he turned in his resignation and was done three months later. So here we sit, starting month three of him not having his ‘stable’ income as he builds his counseling practice, two months out from losing our insurance, and three months out from me losing my ‘stable’ income.
I look at the picture and logically the odds of us having much bread in our future does not look good.
Needless to say, I have had MAJOR moments of freak out. And unlike the Israelites, I haven’t even gone 40 days without food. I haven’t even skipped a meal (and if I am real honest, I could admit that some days I have even had second breakfast, however I won’t admit that because I don’t want to be that honest). Yet I freak out because I see this proverbial clock ticking down and cannot see how the bread will be provided for my family.
I see myself in the fear of the Israelites. I can taste their panic and feel their cries. “GOD! What are you doing? Where are you? We follow you and you are just going to leave us to die, is that it?” Like I said, I am not even without food and I feel this. But here is the amazing thing that this cluster of scriptures showed me. While Exodus and Deuteronomy show that the Israelites were not able to “conquer” the desert with strong faith and instead decided to freaked out, Matthew and Luke give an account of one who did conquer the desert, Jesus.
After 40 days Jesus, who has not eaten, is tempted with bread and is still able to have faith that it is not the bread that will sustain him. It is not the provision of food or lack of that will determine his fate it is God the almighty father. Jesus doesn’t give in to fear. Jesus doesn’t freak out or complain about the deep pangs of hunger in his side. Jesus doesn’t try to fill his belly by taking control and stuffing his face with nutritious, warm bread. He waits in obedience until the Father gives him provision or takes him home. Jesus-1, Satan-0. In that moment when Jesus claims, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”, he conquers the wilderness that had before conquered the Israelites (and bonus, he conqured the other two wilderness temptations, Power/Control and Protection, as well).
So while I don’t like being in the wilderness and not being able to see where my bread is going to come from and HATE Satan’s whispers trying to get me to just take the situation into my own hands and turn back to Egypt or just eat the bread Satan is offering, I know I can go through my wilderness because I am carried by the only one who has conqured it. So bread or no bread, I am trying every day to stop myself from grabbing the steering wheel and just allow the only one who knows how to drive this be the captain and crew.