By Guest Writer Michelle Jones
When Jesus began his ministry, he found himself teaching a large group of people. We know it was at least 5,000 men with women and children. They were far from their homes and as the teaching went long, the disciples began to be concerned about food for the crowd. This is when they gathered the bread and fish and Jesus multiplied what they had and all were fed.
Soon after this event, more people followed Jesus in hopes of a free meal. This is when he explained to them that he was the bread of life and whosoever should eat of this bread would never hunger.
I love how throughout the scriptures we are taught through common everyday things. Things, up until about a hundred years ago, most people could relate daily to…..baking, farming, sowing seeds, fishing.
This year, Heavenly Father has taught me through something common. He taught me about the health of my spirit through sourdough bread. About 7 years ago, I was pushed to try to find ways to heal my own body. It broke in so many ways and I struggled with my responsibilities as a mom of 5 young children. Many doctors shrugged their shoulders and were only able to rule out serious health problems.
I began finding ways to gather strength and heal on my own. I made a google sheet and kept track of how often my family was getting sick. I listed out all of the struggles I was having and took note of how different diets, exercises, and supplements would affect each of the problems I was having. I was particularly drawn to the word of wisdom. I was stuck on the suggestion of wheat. I wondered how I could safely incorporate wheat into our diet. The more I read and studied, I found that the way wheat is able to be stored is also the reason it is so hard to digest. It makes sense that something that can be stored so long, has some defenses built into itself. I found that a way to break down those defenses was through sprouting the wheat or through wild yeast.
I didn’t understand the wild yeast idea, so I began sprouting wheat and cooking things for my family with it. Because this process takes out most of the gluten, I could only make quick breads like muffins or pancakes. I kept sprouting wheat for years. Little by little my body began to heal and my family had less sickness. But because I felt better, I slacked off and stopped recording and stopped sprouting.
Last year at the beginning of the pandemic, the spirit said to me, “You aren’t doing anything to keep your family healthy.” I knew this was true and I tried to make myself want to start sprouting wheat again. Instead, I thought I’d try the other road with the wild yeast. I had tried to catch wild yeast, but I didn’t have much success. My extended family joked with my desire to be able to catch wild yeast and often thought I’d said I was trying to catch wild geese.
It seemed like an elusive task, but shortly after the spirit told me it was time to figure out our health again, I looked on Amazon and found a sourdough starter for $11 that could be shipped to me in 2 days. Boom. Wild yeast caught.
The instructions on the wild yeast starter instructed me to feed it almost equal amounts of filtered water and flour. I began making bread from this starter. I began to see that if I fed it often, the starter was beautiful. It was full of life and the bread rose delightfully and it was so good. Everything I made from the fed sourdough starter was amazing. It had nothing to do with me, I just fed the starter.
I would make loaves of bread, biscuits, sourdough pizza, noodles, and cinnamon rolls. It would only take a few ingredients and the starter made everything taste amazing. I would even turn down going to lunch because I had a fresh loaf of bread waiting to be made into delicious sandwiches. This is how I imagine bread to be when Christ compares himself to the bread of life. Something so good, so satisfying, so filling, so life-sustaining.
But of course, I got sick of cooking and feeding and I’d just let the starter sit in the fridge without feeding it. It looked a lot different when I didn’t feed it. There was still life in it, but it looked gross and if I made bread out of it, it wouldn’t raise as much and it wasn’t amazing.
The thoughts, “I am the bread of life” and “Give us this day our daily bread” would run through my mind every time I fed the starter or made the bread. I noticed that the starter was very forgiving. It was always ready to come back to life when I fed it. And I also got great results even if I could only feed it a little every day. This seems true with the patience and mercy of Jesus Christ with each of us. When we turn back to God, he will succor us, or run to us to begin to revive our spirit. And he’s willing to work with each of us with any amount of ourselves we can give him.
As a mother of 17 years, I’ve often found it difficult to find a quiet place to pray and study and feed my spirit. I was often serving and living with a spirit that looked like my barely fed starter. There was life in it, but it was far from its potential.
It took this year and this constant visual lesson in front of my face for me to deliberately find a place every day to talk to Heavenly Father and study the scriptures with fewer distractions. This deliberate time with God nourishes my spirit and just like the bread, I have found that everything is far better.
In our school work this week I found this poem called In Common Things:
Seek not afar for beauty. Lo! it glows
In dew-wet grasses all about thy feet;
In birds, in sunshine, childish faces sweet,
In stars, and mountain summits topped with snows.
Go not abroad for happiness. For see!
It is a flower that blossoms by thy door.
Bring love and justice home; and then, no more,
Thou’lt wonder in what dwelling joy may be.
Dream not of noble service elsewhere wrought:
The simple duty that awaits thy hand
Is God’s voice uttering a divine command;
Life’s common deeds build all that saints have thought.
In wonder-workings, or some bush aflame,
Men look for God, and fancy him concealed.
But in earth’s common things he stands revealed;
While grass and flowers and stars spell out his name.
Minot Judson Savage
The paradise men seek, the city bright
That gleams beyond the stars for longing eyes,
Is only human goodness in the skies. Earth’s deeds, well done, glow into heavenly light.
I know that God is in the common things. I know Jesus is truly the bread of life. I know that the more we turn to him and experience his hand in our lives, temptations will be quieted and joys will be more full. I pray that in these great and dreadful days we will strive to seek more of the great. I believe it is as abundant as the dreadful. I know God is real. I love him. I love the scriptures. I love that they show us how Heavenly Father has been instrumental in the lives of people throughout history. I know he continues to provide miracles. I pray we can all recognize and pray for miracles in our lives and taste of the goodness of the bread of life who is Jesus Christ.