“He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33
My husband jokes that my first loaf of bread could be used to build a brick fireplace, it was so hard. Still, he ate it—chewing and chewing until he dutifully swallowed the mealy lump. For years, bread-making was an elusive art, something mastered only by folks wearing tall white hats.
Me? Well, I made bricks.
It wasn’t until Eva came into our lives that I understood what I was doing wrong. For the month after our second child was born, Eva cleaned, entertained my oldest, let me nap, and made amazing bread. She taught me that I needed to “proof” the yeast—let it sit in a warm, sweet liquid until it bubbled. She gently told me I was under-kneading. She showed me how to beat and push the dough into submission for fifteen minutes.
“See here? It needs to feel like this.” She gave the dough a good spank. “You need to work the yeast and gluten all the way through the dough until it’s no longer tough, but stretchy.”
Thanks to Eva, I now make high rising bread, and my husband no longer has to chew until his teeth hurt.
I realized my bread-making journey is a lot like spiritual growth.
We need tenacity. It took me four years to perfect my first loaf of bread. Growing in Christ requires a similar endurance. Upon failing, we need to go forward even if we’re discouraged or disheartened.
We need to knead longer. So much of life is convenience and instantaneous gratification. If we expect this in our spiritual life, the end result will be dry, hard spirituality. We need to allow the Bread of Life to knead His yeast into our hearts. His kneading hurts, but it yields high-rising spirituality and hearts that stretch.
We need mentors. I didn’t understand how well-kneaded dough was supposed to feel. I needed the expertise of someone who understood bread-making, and I needed to be humble enough to accept her help. God places mentors in our lives to show us how to live and to encourage us as we struggle.
Here’s one of my recipes from The Irresistible Table (releases officially on Friday) that my kids and friends ask for. I first ate them at a local Italian restaurant, then fiddled around until they came out exactly like the ones I’d come to love. Click the recipe to read it better.
Prayer: Dear Lord. Help me be tenacious when I fail—to keep asking for Your strength when mine fails. Knead my heart until it’s pliable in Your hands. Open my eyes to the people You’ve placed in my life who point me to You.