I will never forget the first time I bit into a piece of homemade bread. I don’t remember where I was or who I was with, but I can vividly remember the soft and spongy texture, the subtle salty sweet flavor, and the warmth inside my mouth. I remember feeling shocked at how flavorful it was even without butter or jelly.
I am not someone who eats things plain. I like to smother everything in spices, sauces and toppings. This slice of bread though…it was perfect. It was made carefully, patiently, and intentionally.
As most food goes, the longer something takes to bake or cook, the better the result. And so goes each of our hearts. The longer we let God work on our hearts, the more tender, humble, and stronger they become.
This year, there are 16 MissionCorps members in Arizona who are all working towards the same mission, yet each of our hearts were fashioned to work quite differently. We face many of the same challenges each day, but also each face our own unique struggles. The beautiful part about this is that God uses all of us according to His own design, not our own. We all come from such different backgrounds and life experiences, and He brings us all together to work towards achieving a beautiful plan.
The unique suffering that God invites us to embrace only pulls our hearts towards a transformation that will increase our capacity for true love and joy. This brings me back to the bread. The finer the bread, the more intensely the grain is ground up. Beyond that, there are even different grinding methods used according to what type of bread it is intended to become.
“For caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor does a cartwheel roll over cumin. But caraway is beaten out with a staff, and cumin with a rod. Grain is crushed for bread, but not forever; though he thresh it thoroughly, and drive his cartwheel and horses over it, he does not pulverize it.” (Isa 28: 27-28)
An allegory I am currently reading uses this analogy to further emphasize how God allows us each to suffer with something different, yet He uses that process of suffering according to the plan He has for us. When we are asked to do something difficult in life, or overcome a certain obstacle, God is only preparing our hearts to become the “type of bread” he wants us to be. Although I have a personal preference of ciabatta rolls to pumpernickel bread, we are each called to an equally important role in feeding God’s brothers and sisters with our love and working together to glorify Him through our suffering.
“Whenever the vessel of clay he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making another vessel of whatever sort he pleased.” (Jer 18:4)
So don’t be afraid to let God grind up your heart into a million pieces of grain, and let Him take His time in leavening the dough. Our suffering is being transformed into the tastiest and highest quality bread and being perfected in the process of its becoming. We need only to give God permission to mold us with acceptance and joy. Despite the differences in our grain, our ultimate destination is the same.
By Jana Zuniga, a MissionCorps member