Bread Baking Messes

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Yesterday my almost ten-year-old daughter asked me, "Mom, have you ever made bread?"

I laughed at out loud at the memory that question evoked. My sister was Jenna's age and my older daughter was my age (12) when we decided to open our own bakery in the bush of Congo. Our family would take vacations in the capital city of Kinshasa and to make a little spending money, Nicol and I came up with the idea of baking bread to sell on the mission station.

We would drag out the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and yeast. Pretty soon the entire dining room table looked like someone had spread talcum powder all over it. Getting the bread to rise was the trickiest part and, frankly, our loaves were more like bricks. In our defense, we had to cook the bread in our wood stove. It was difficult to get the temperature just right. Usually the bread was either under or overcooked. I don't know how she bit her tongue with our pantry supplies so scarce at times, but my mother let us bake away and never complained about the mess we had made. She encouraged our ambition and perhaps saw something in us that we did not.

My mother saw potential, not the almost daily failures we experienced. She chose not to quench the excitement in our eyes or the desire we had to accomplish something new. I never remember her throwing up her hands over the waste we had made of the flour. Instead, she encouraged us to continue.

We did not lack for customers, even though our bread was so awful. Nicol and I were thrilled with the money we had made during our three-month venture as bakers. The fascination eventually wore off and we were on to something else. But I am so glad my mom let us have that experience.

How thankful I am that my heavenly Father doesn't focus on all our shortcomings and failures. Mine have been more than I could possibly recount. His love for us is unconditional. He continues to lend support even when He knows that the outcome is going to be less than perfect. What He loves is a heart that is fully committed to Him and continues to try, despite the real possibility that we will fall down, make mistakes, and mess up big time. God sees the potential. What would happen if I started seeing others the way He does?

Thank You, Jesus, that You loved us even before we knew who You were. Thank You that You see the potential and continue the good work You began in each one who calls on Your name for salvation even when we mess up.