Bread and cake

Confession: I like picking my own plate.

Do you know what bread days are? You have them, same as me. Days of laundry, days of tidying the house. Days of waking up to a normal breakfast. Days of wondering what to cook for supper. Days of the children playing, quiet projects humming, time to feed the cat.

Do you know what cake days are? You have them too, same as me. Days of trips, vacations, an outing to the zoo. Days of firsts, of lasts. Graduations. Parties. Weddings. Births. Days of long-anticipated joy. Days of surprising radiance. Days of dance, of play, of merriment.

I used to think it would be nice if all my days were cake, and it took me a long time to see that daily bread is what nourishes. Bread strengthens and builds muscle. Cake is joy when Jesus pulls back the veil, but bread is the daily walking with him and being sustained—sweet too.

After I heard Dorcas Smucker talk about the Ordinary, I was allowed to go one step further: bread is an enormous gift. You don’t know how good the ordinary is till it’s gone.

I also realized, suddenly, that most cake days have lots of bread in them. Waking up, getting breakfast. Putting on some clothes, same as always. Packing the bags. Driving. Changing diapers.

And most bread days have wedges of cake squeezed in at surprising places. An unexpected visit from a friend. Good news. An unusually delicious supper. A good read. A gift from a child. Everyone in my house laughing at the same time.

So I began thinking of each day as a platter, cubes of bread and cake laid out, carefully arranged and mixed, chosen by Jesus. Each morning I paused to purposely receive it, thank Him, ask Lord, help me to eat it all.

And then there were days when I rebelled against the whole platter, surprised to find that some of it tasted… rotten. Perhaps that is the weak point in the analogy, thinking every flavor should delight?

I just finished reading One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. She introduced me to a third flavor: gravel.

Day after day I’d greedily take what looks like it’s good from Your hand—a child gloating over sweet candy… but thrash wild to escape when what You give from Your hand feels bad—like gravel in the mouth. What if that which feels like trouble, gravel in the mouth, is only that—feeling? What if faith says all is [grace]?…

‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4…

That Serpent, he’s slithered with the lie that God doesn’t give good but gives rocks in the mouth, leaves us to starve empty in wilderness and we’ll just have to take lessons from Satan on how to take the stones of the careless God and make them into bread to feed our own hungry souls…

There is only one way to live full and it is “by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” It is all that Jesus used to survive in the desert, in His wrangle with silver-tongued Lucifer, only this: “It is written.” And it’s the Word of God that turns the rocks in the mouth to loaves on the tongue. That fills our emptiness with the true and real good… [He] longs to transfigure all, no matter how long it takes.”

I am back to believing in bread and cake. Gravel is a flavor, not a third substance.

When He lets me pick my own plate, I’m a silly child wanting gummy worms and French fries, frou-frou and mazel tov three times a day.

What He dishes up is good.

Lord, help me to eat it all.

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12 years ago

Ironic, isn’t it?…how we mothers tirelessly teach our young children to say “thank-you” for whatever is set before them, to clean their plates whether it’s their favorite meal or not…but then we fail to practice what we preach. I’m guilty. And learning. Along with my children. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

12 years ago

Amen, amen. I’m the child who asks for chocolate for every meal and wonder why He gives me bread and don’t see that He knows what He’s doing.

12 years ago

Mmmmm…what a delicious post! This is so true, sis. Your words kept resonating with my own life as I read further and further. Cancer/chemo seems like the very substance of gravel until… I look back and see glimpses of absolute beauty He is creating through all of this: A talk with a young man my husband and I hardly know who tells us we are so brave. A visit with an out-of-state friend who assures me her young 6 year old prays for me all the time (I don’t even know if he had a face to put to me until we stopped in the other day). A complete new grueling lesson on the fears I so readily struggle with, but with the lesson comes redemption and I am stronger for having to face it. This morning as I prayed I thanked God for taking the evil of this world (cancer) and bringing so much good out of it that we are actually better off for going through it. Amazing!

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