"I believe in the sun,
even when it is not shining.
I believe in love,
even when I don't feel it.
I believe in God, even when there is silence."
~words that were scratched on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany
by a Jew hiding from Nazi persecution
So thrilled to be back to share some thoughts on Session 3 of the Live Deliciously series
which centers around Jesus feeding the 5,000 (John 6:1-58).
As always, there was so very much given to ponder throughout the week's homework,
and through the main study message...so much to devour!
The dialogue that occurred between Jesus and His disciples during this miracle
brought to light a testing of their faith, and in spite of their limited finite thinking,
God fed the multitude of people with a small boy's simple offering.
Have you ever found yourself in a "season of doubt" ~ a time when you doubted
God's goodness, His plan, His presence amidst trials in your life?
Out of everything we covered in this meaty text,
this topic of doubt was the one thing that has resonated with me the most.
Maybe it's because it's so tangible...
because these are such perilous times that we live in...
because there are so many I know going through fierce trials right now...
because the sweat on my brow is still fresh from journeying through my own fierce trials....
Lenya pointed out that trials bring tests.
I can testify to that.
And yet I've seen tremendous trials become tremendous triumphs.
I've seen great testings turned into great testimonies.
In "Waking The Dead," John Eldredge references a powerful passage from a favorite book of mine called Pilgrim's Progress, the famous story by John Bunyan that I find so relevant to this topic of "doubt." He says:
"Well into his journey towards the Celestial City, Pilgrim grows impatient with his progress. He leaves the narrow path for what he believes will be a shortcut, but is captured by the Giant Despair and held in the dungeon on Doubting Castle. Under the harsh treatment of Despair, Christian loses heart nearly to the point of taking his own life. Listen in on the whispers of Pilgrim and his companion, Hopeful, in their dungeon:
Pilgrim: Brother, what shall we do? The life we now live is miserable. For my part I know not whether it is best to live, or to die.
Hopeful: My brother, remember how valiant thou hast been heretofore? Apollyon could not crush thee, nor could all that thou didst hear, or see, or feel, in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What hardship, terror and amazement hast thou playedst the man at Vanity Fair, and was neither afraid of the chain, nor cage, nor yet of bloody death?...
Now a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, broke out in this passionate speech: What a fool am I, to lie in a stinking dungeon when I may as well walk with liberty. I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will open any lock in Doubting Castle."
Pilgrim lay in despair because he had FORGOTTEN.
Hopeful urges him to REMEMBER, both all he had been through,
as well as the assurances he has from the One who called him on the journey."
One last excerpt I think you will enjoy, and that ties in so beautifully...
such a moving reminder that even when we doubt it, He is there,
and He is working behind the scenes in ways we don't even know about on our behalf.
Remember that when you are tempted to doubt His goodness...
This excerpt is also from "Waking the Dead," where John Eldredge references
a segment from C.S. Lewis' "The Horse and His Boy."
He says: "In this story, Jesus is portrayed as a lion and comes to Shasta, a young, lost boy who figures the world has all but forgotten him...
“And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.
What put a stop to all this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
It darted into his mind that he had heard long ago that there were giants in these Northern countries. He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying.
The Thing (unless it was a Person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out of the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway, he had felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.
If the horse had been any good - or if he had known how to get any good out of the horse - he would have risked everything on a breakaway and a wild gallop. But he knew he couldn’t make that horse gallop. So he went on at a walking pace and the unseen companion walked and breathed beside him. At last he could bear it no longer.
“Who are you?” he said, scarcely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you - are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not - not something dead, are you? Oh please - please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-”
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gasped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers..."
Oh Bellas, I simply do not understand why things unfold the way they do sometimes,
I do not always understand God's timing,
and quite frankly I know I'm not meant to.
Being given the sterile blueprint
would rob all the passion of living
as much as I'd like to see it sometimes.
But I DO know that He uses EVERYTHING,
even the darkest moments of our lives,
to bring us into His sweet sweet presence
to do something remarkable within us
that we never could have anticipated.
Always remember and rest hard on the fact that God loves you 24-7 because that's His style.
He loves you enough to watch over you and take over your scene when He wills it necessary.
He is our help when there is danger – clear and present.
"Oh Taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
And with that, I'd like to leave you with the coinciding recipe that accompanied this section:
Lebanese (Syrian) Bread.
I was a little nervous about making this,
because I have never made any kind of bread before,
not even tortillas....I know!!!
But this really was a cinch to make
We filled our bread with lamb & tabbouleh....fantastic!!
go on, give it a try :)
Lebanese (Syrian) Bread
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
2 packages of active dry yeast
1/3 cup of water
1 Tbsp of flour
1 Tbsp of sugar
3 Cups of flour
1 Cup of water
1 tsp of of salt
1. Sprinkle the yeast over water and add 1 tablespoon of flour and sugar. Stir and set aside to rise for about 10 minutes.
2. Sift the 3 cups of flour with the salt. Add the yeast mixture. Knead, adding one cup water gradually, to make a stiff but not dry dough.
3. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down.
4. Divide into 6 to 8 round balls. Place on lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin flatten into 1/4 inch thick circles.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise again for 15-25 minutes. Brush with milk.
6. Preheat oven and baking sheets to 500 degrees. Place the bread on baking sheets or a baking stone until puffed up and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Then turn over so the other side browns also.
When the bread is a little cool, place them in plastic bags to soften.
And last but not least, I would like to extend my most heartfelt and sincere THANK YOU to Elisabeth Pregadio, Audrey Martinez and ALL of the women from our small group in the Live Deliciously series, and to Gail, Krista, & Liz (Lorraine Brown's friends & neighbors) - thank you from the very bottom of my heart sweet bellas for your outpouring of love, for your generosity and kindness, for reaching out to bless our little family in such a mighty way, you truly are a gift to me and we will never forget how God used you to touch our lives in such a special way.