At my book signing last month, I received a beautiful note from a dear friend. She knows me well—my anxieties, introvert personality, and God’s call to put all that aside and use the gift he has given me to write for him.
She wrote, “the bread is being cast upon the waters ...”
As the New Year is upon us, I have been contemplating what this curious message from Ecclesiastes truly means.
Bread. It seems to belong to us. Something we created, made, baked, bought, earned, measured out, sifted and kneaded. It seems to belong to us. But the bread comes from God. Just like Abraham’s offering on the mountain, it is provided by God.
We may think, “But, I bought the ingredients”, or “I planted the wheat, and waited for the harvest and did the work.” But even the simplest harvest depends on a gift from God. He provides the sun to grow the seed. He provides the rain, the earth, and the right conditions for the seed to mature and blossom.
And he gives the ability to create. He provides the tiny thought in our head that says, “What happens if I try this … or this … or this.”
But after the little nudge, the still small voice, God seems to step back. He waits … for us. The gift doesn’t develop on its own. We have to do the work of planting, harvesting, grinding the wheat into the flour, adding the leaven, the salt and oil, stirring, kneading the flour into dough, and forming the dough into loaves. We have to learn the technique of bread making.
God provides the basic ingredients from nature and the ability to learn the skill of baking. But then he sits back and lets us create—create the beautiful loaf.
What has he called you to create? A loaf of bread? A painting? A book? An environment to nourish a child’s soul? To knit a masterpiece? Or knit together flesh and skin, muscles and bone, to repair what was once broken?
He calls us to create in a million different ways, and yet uniquely gifted to each human being.
And then what he asks us to do next is remarkable.
“Cast your bread upon the waters ...”
He calls us to create, and then to cast away. Give away. To use our gifts, the gifts he has given to us, to give to others. Make the bread and give it away. Cast it upon the waters and watch where God takes it.
This is my prayer for the New Year: Lord, give us the ability to make the bread, and the courage to cast it out upon the waters.
Sara Nelson O’Brien is the author of EverydayJesus, and The Bald-Headed, Tattooed,Motorcycle Mama’s Devotional Guide: For Cancer Warriors and the People who LoveThem.
All photos courtesy of pixabay.com.