May 17, 2023 · by Hillary Wheeler
Homemade bread baking is an art that's making its way back into the homes of many families across America. It may be a passing trend or fascination, but it is something that is calling everyone back to the basics of living.
I got interested in making sourdough bread in 2021 and made my first starter in 2022, and it worked out great! I was so excited that it turned out with minimal effort, and I made my first loaf with a heart shape cut into the top. I had one of those “I’m feeling like a professional pioneer woman” moments. I have to chuckle at myself now because at the time I felt like I had already mastered the art when really I just got a little lucky on my first few tries.
The climate in my trailer must have been just right or something because, this year when I tried to make a new starter in our new house using the same recipe, it completely failed, and when I tried it again, it completely failed. I finally got a starter going using a different recipe and got to the satisfying stage of kneading the bread and letting it rise. I kneaded and kneaded, I stretched and stretched, I let it sit and rise and then started all over again with the kneading. Bread making is quite the process, and I found myself getting a little frustrated with how many times I had to repeat the process of kneading, stretching, and folding. I eventually got to the point where it should have been ready to bake but the dough didn’t feel the way it was supposed to for the baking step. At that point I had to leave it be because I had places to go, so I set it aside with some disappointment. I felt like I did a lot of work for no reward. I headed out the door that day with some personal things weighing on my heart, and when I was pulling out of my neighborhood I had this whisper of a thought enter my mind that said, you’ve been in the season of kneading, but you will rise.
I just had to ruminate over the thought for a little bit as I drove, but then the past 10 years of my life all of a sudden took on a new perspective. I thought about how I had felt like I had been punched down and stretched over and over again just like I had done while working the bread dough. I thought about how I had simultaneously felt frustrated at times while also being patient because I knew the beautiful loaf I had envisioned for the end product.
I knew in that moment that God has been patiently working on me just that way.
God has been patiently kneading and stretching me through heart breaks and trials, through tough decisions and life lessons. I’m sure He has been frustrated with me when I didn’t learn lessons the first time or when I haven’t followed His guiding hand.
I realized that in those days and nights I felt beat down that God's hand was working in me with a beautiful end in mind.
I see now, that sometimes those tough moments in life are needed to make me pliable enough for God to work through me. Just like the sourdough recipes I tried were so specific on grams and timing, so is God’s work with His children. It’s got to be His perfect timing, His perfect ways, His perfect plan, and when He says, "It’s just right", what He has worked on will rise into something magnificent and beautiful. Not only will we rise after the kneading, my friend, but what rises from within in us, God will use to feed others that are empty. And that is the end goal. He kneads us, lets us rise, and then feeds hungry souls through the work He has done in us. The beauty others see in us will only be the work God has done. To God be the glory. My friend, may you endure the kneading process, for I believe with all of my heart that your day will come to rise into your beautiful purpose.
Philipians 2:13 - “ For it is God which worketh in you both to will and do to of His own pleasure”
Your sister in the Lord,