February 27, 2008

Crumbs of Faith

2008 1506 page31 capome years ago when I started making my own bread, I knew I’d need to spend a lot of time 
in the kitchen. But that was before someone invented a bread machine that mixed and baked the bread. I finally bought one.
The necessary components that help determine the quality of traditionally made bread—ingredients, measurements, temperature, and humidity—don’t change when using a bread machine. My bread maker typically turns out beautiful loaves of fresh bread. But every now and then there is a failure.
If a finished loaf ends up being only two inches high, I can usually carve out a few croutons. But occasionally a loaf is so bad that all I can salvage are bread crumbs. What can I do with the crumbs? I asked myself. I experimented.
Besides breading meal, I’ve found they can be used in making vegetarian patties, croquettes, and even desserts. Mixed with butter and herbs, they can top a casserole, line 
a platter, or be added to bread cubes to make stuffing or an entrée. And birds and bread crumbs are very compatible. With so many options I came to the conclusion that there are no failures—only bread crumbs.
2008 1506 page31Some 2,000 years ago a certain Canaanite woman learns, through perseverance, the extraordinary value of bread crumbs (see Matt. 15:22-28; Mark 7:24-30). This woman is desperate for help for her demon-possessed daughter. One day she learns of a prophet with power to heal all kinds of diseases. He even does it without charging a fee. Many were being cured of their ailments. Perhaps He could heal her daughter. This miracle-worker might be the One to answer the longing of her heart. She would at least give it a try. Pushing aside all doubts, this mother finds her way to Jesus.
Then seeing Him she cries out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Ignoring formalities she blurts out her problem and waits expectantly for an answer. None comes. Jesus is strangely silent.
The woman wonders how to respond. Being ignored is puzzling and somewhat humiliating. Before she can think of what to do next, she hears His disciples say, “Send her away.” Fighting a moment of panic, the anxious mother turns to Jesus for support. Instead, it sounds as if she is being told that her nationality disqualifies her daughter for healing.
Giving up is not on this woman’s agenda. The mother presses her case. Kneeling at His feet she looks up at Jesus and utters a simple but passionate plea: “Lord, help me!”
He replies, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
Keeping her eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, she knows whatever she does next will decide her daughter’s fate. She makes her decision. Refusing to take the prophet’s words at face value, she uses them as an opportunity.
“Yes, Lord,” she boldly responds, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Jesus, with a change in His countenance and a softening tone in His voice that reflected His true attitude toward her, commends the woman for her great faith. In that moment she finds healing for her daughter and a Lord for her life.
This mother was confident that Jesus would answer her prayers even if she had only crumbs of faith. She didn’t need a whole loaf—and neither do we.
For most of us, mixed into our days are successes and setbacks of various sizes. When things go well, we are delighted, and heaven is filled with our praises to the Lord. But, oh, how it hurts when our hopes are shattered, our dreams fragmented, and all we have left are the crumbs!
If cooks can be creative with crumbs of bread, think what God can do with the crumbs of what we call our failures. The Lord can supply different ingredients and measurements and mix into our lives a beautiful new plan, sometimes surpassing our original goal.
When we fall short of our expectations, He gently reminds us that as long as we trust fully in Him, there are no failures—only bread crumbs. He should know. He’s the perfect Bread of Life.
Marcia Mollenkopf is a retired teacher who writes from Klamath Falls, Oregon.