Updated: Dec 21, 2018
From Isaiah 45:18
For a while now, I’ve wanted to make bread. It just feels so resourceful and rustic, so I’ve-got-this. I love to make anything homemade, in fact. The day I discovered I didn’t need a box to make a cake or a pan of muffins was liberating for me. Now, I don’t even use recipes sometimes—What?! (This, from the girl who used to review carefully the instructions—yes, all three of them—on the Kraft box every time I made mac n’ cheese.)
So when a friend mentioned the other day that she had a sourdough starter, I jumped at the opportunity: “Could I get some of that?” I flashed back to the days when Mom used to have warm loaves of sourdough waiting for us on the counter after school. Add a pat of butter and some local honey—oh yes, this is going to happen. I’m about to be that mom.
I got the starter. I got the instructions. Nothing looked too complicated—just feed the starter flour and water, and when it’s ready, mix up a few ingredients (literally, just four), knead, proof, and bake. How hard could it be?
Apparently, pretty hard. Or, at least, pretty hard for me. Let’s just say this, my first loaf was so rock-solid durable that I watched my daughter throw it around the backyard yesterday, using it as a play toy for our dog. My second loaf, which I pulled from the oven this morning, I could at least cut into, but it’s reminiscent of what I imagine men might have kept in their pants pockets during the Civil War. We’re only missing the slab of weeks-old cheese.
In the meantime, while all this is happening in my kitchen, here’s what I’m reading in Isaiah: “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’” (45:18 ESV).
I can’t get over the contrast: I receive a small jar of starter. Something already alive, something already created. On top of that, I receive instructions. Three simple steps to keep this starter going, and only a few steps more to turn that starter into something warm, delicious, nourishing. Yet, despite being set up so well, I mess it up.
But He—oh, He starts with nothing. Literally, nothing. And from nothing, He creates it all—the heavens and an earth. How can He even envision it? How can He, from nothing, even imagine Victoria Falls, or the Waipio Valley, or the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea? How can He see humpbacks and sequoias and the Rockies? How can He see the inner workings of even one human? Yet He will go on to form billions and each one unique.
He can do all this without a starter, without instructions, and without help (see Isaiah 44:24).
He “formed the earth and made it,” and more than this, He formed the earth “to be inhabited.” He knew exactly what it would need: how much oxygen and rain and sunlight, and at what angle, and precisely when and where and how. He knows.
He knows you this well, too. He made you and knows precisely what you need. Best of all, He promises to supply it (Matthew 6:31-33). All this, not because He has anything to prove, but simply because He loves you.
Next week’s reading: Isaiah 50–58.