Yesterday, I made three loaves of bread from a recipe I printed off the Internet for sour-cream/nut-pumpkin bread. But something was wrong with the combination of ingredients—either the recipe was wrong, or my banana mash, which had been sitting in the refrigerator for several weeks, was too liquid. The loaves I pulled from the oven were decidedly damper on the inside than previous recipes of sour-cream pumpkin bread I had made. I didn’t dare leave them to brown to a crispy burnt crust on the outside in order to get them bready on the inside, so I pulled them out at the requisite one hour and ten minutes plus another ten minutes when the test sharp object I inserted didn’t come out clean.
Finally, in desperation, I pulled them out of the oven, ran a knife along the edge of the loaf pans, gently rolled them out on a rack, and folded all into a tight tin foil sleeve for another twenty minutes in the oven. The inside refused to bake dry, however, so I christened them Sour-Cream Nut-Pumpkin-Bread Puddings. Serving them warm to members of our Read & Intercede Book Group, I sliced the loaves down the middle, then cut them horizontally into smaller rectangles. Their insides were so damp, however, that nothing would slice them but a serrated knife. Any other knife shredded the soggy breads.
My company loved the little bars with the gooey, nutty centers. I told them my recipe story and about my rechristening the failed attempt as Sour-Cream Nut-Pumpkin-Bread Puddings. One of the young men said, “Hmm—they look a little like blood pudding.” Admittedly, the loaves were quite dark from their extended sojourn in the oven, but I noticed this didn’t keep him from popping them into his mouth. “Right,” I replied. “Blood Sour-Cream Nut-Pumpkin-Bread Puddings.”
Recently we have been dealing with various crises in our extended family, and I realized that sometimes the recipe for life just doesn’t bake right. Try as we might to put orderly, untroubled days together, bad and terrible things happen. The usual breaded middle is a gooey mess, the crust is more brown than any crust should be; it’s a smidge this side of burned. And God, the Master Chef, who makes classic recipes from our ruined hopes and dreams, know that any ordinary knife, even a sharp one, is not going to cut the pieces into bite-sized bars. The cutting action is going to shred the un-going work in progress. This operation calls for a serrated edge. We as humans howl and scream and shake our fists and stamp our feet as God prepares us for service, but even though the ingredients of our hours and days have combined to make a finished bakery product that is quite different than anything we’ve ever seen, the results are rather delicious.
Yesterday afternoon, I thought I’d just toss out the Internet recipe—something was wrong. But now, having tasted the end result, I’m thinking that I’ll keep it, experiment a little, change the name, try baking it in ramekins or a round baking dish. Maybe a little caramel drizzled over the top. Maybe a little whipped cream. I do have these parfait glasses into which I layer a little trail mix, a layer of frozen peaches thawed and mixed with instant pudding, some blueberries, a little more trail mix, a topping of ice cream, a couple more blueberries on top. What if I crumbled the blood pumpkin recipe instead of the trail mix into the parfait glasses? What if…?
When God combines the ingredients of our lives, sometimes He has to use a serrated edge to form us into the perfect bite-sized chunks, palatable to all those who taste of us. We don’t like it, but believe me, He knows what He’s about.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.