Patience in the Yeast – A Lesson on Kingdom Growth

I love to bake – cookies, cakes, slices, bread, you name it, I’ll attempt to make it. I am always up for trying something new; in fact, you will rarely find that I make the same treat twice. About a year ago I tried my hand at making sourdough bread. I made my own natural yeast starter, fed it and looked after it, and eventually once it had grown, attempted to make bread. My very first loaf was a complete failure. It was dense, barely rose and did not look like sourdough in the slightest. My attempts improved very minimally over the following weeks, but I certainly never achieved anything close to the perfect sourdough loaves that you find at the farmers market or artesian bakeries with that  classic open crumb. And as much as I desperately wanted to create beautiful ‘social-media worthy’ bread, and was aware of the many intricacies in the art of creating sourdough, the problem was not with my starter, my kneading technique or my oven – it was with my patience. I simply didn’t have the patience to mix, let my dough rise for some 20 hours, only to knead it once more, and let it rise for another 12 hours before baking it. I wanted my bread to be made quickly, to eat it that day (so much so I actually tried adding instant yeast to the mix …) So needless to say I quickly resorted to returning to normal instant-yeast bread recipes that involved much less waiting-time.

Unfortunately, my lack of patience is not limited to bread making. Recently, I have noticed moments where I have lacked motivation for gospel work due to a seeming lack of visible kingdom growth from my efforts. It is not infrequently that I find myself seeking to see the fruit of my ministry work; an outward change in the people I invest in and pray for, a growth in numbers attending our church services, or even just people I know maturing in certain aspects of their character. And of course there is nothing wrong with desiring to see the results of God’s work in people’s lives – but if we allow the lack of visible growth to be a source of discouragement for us, we can actually be placing misaligned or unrealistic expectations on how God works – even if we feel like we are being patient!

In Luke 13 Jesus teaches us some profound truths about the Kingdom of God. In v10-17, Jesus heals a woman who had been bent over by a disabling spirit for 18 years. He also rebukes the ruler of the synagogue for his lack of compassion, and desire to fulfill the letter of the law (Jesus had healed and therefore “worked” on the sabbath), rather than the glory of God displayed in the power of releasing and healing this woman. We read that ‘all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him” (v17). This display of power, that could deliver this woman from the power of satan, raises the question,’if Jesus is establishing the Kingdom of God, what will it look like?’ (v18).
Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to two things, a mustard seed which grows into a tree (v19) and a leaven, the yeast in the dough that makes it slowly rise. Both these things, a seed and yeast may seem small or insignificant, but with time, they grow to have extensive impact.

I have often considered myself patient in thinking that it could be months or maybe even a year or two to see change in myself or other people. God has been teaching me recently that the Holy Spirit prompts and works in His perfect timing – which is not my timing. I have learnt that I must be patient in the knowledge that what I may already know to be true, or may be convicted by, is not necessarily the same for anyone else. However, the timeframe of a mustard seed growing into a tree, or the yeast in the bread is so much greater than my supposed patience. This image of slow growth that Jesus provides is teaching us that our patience in the growth of God’s Kingdom is not in the realms of weeks or months, or maybe even years – it’s lifetimes. The fruit of ‘your’ ministry may not be for you to see, but may be for the generation after you. Just as I needed to be patient for the yeast to work to create a sourdough loaf, we need to be patient in God’s work in others. And this is not the exception. It is not that most people will change quickly, and the Kingdom will grow rapidly but we need patience for the odd occasion when things are a bit slower – No! Jesus is teaching us what the Kingdom of God is like; this is the norm for us.  Patience, a firm trust in God’s perfect timing, and belief that he is faithfully producing fruit even if we cannot see it yet, are prerequisites for continued service in ministry work.

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Heart Questions: A Privileged Role in the Kingdom

You are not needed by God. I am not needed by God. God is all powerful and all sovereign, He is perfect in his character and has always been, long before the creation of the Earth. Yet here we are, living out our lives to share the gospel  and make disciples, spending each day aiming to glorify God in all we do, pursuing knowing Jesus and make Jesus known. We do this despite not being needed. Why?

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Heart Questions: An Active and Dependent Faith

Just recently I had a job interview for an intern position (first-year-out doctor) at my local hospital. This interview, alongside a couple of references from doctors I had worked with, determined whether I got to stay where I am currently living and my husband keep his job or if we would need to pack up and move away from our church and families next year. The interview went averagely. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing- I really had no idea what the result would be.

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Heart Questions: Putting Jesus’ Words into Practice

On the very last page of my Bible, I am slowly developing a list of questions—mostly ones that I come across in my reading, but some which come about through reflecting. I call these ‘heart questions;’ they are ones which I ask to my heart, in a very broad sense, ‘how am I going at this area of life?’ I also use it as a method to remember things I have been struck or convicted by in past reading to ensure I continue to focus on and invest in pursuing Christ and growing in His likeness. They are not questions based on spiritual disciplines (e.g. ‘How have I been going at reading my Bible?’ ‘Am I praying every day?’), but are rather the practical, fruitful outworking of these things; they are an indication of being in a posture allowing the transformation of the Holy Spirit. This might be something along the lines of, “Am I aware of God’s peace in my day to day life?” “Does my life demonstrate to others that I have complete trust in God,” etc. As I was spending time with God recently, I came across another of these questions to add to my list, and thought that putting together such a list could also be helpful for others as a reference to prompt prayer or reflection, or for considering ways to be growing in greater obedience to God. I will compile them into a page (which you can access from the home page), and plan to include a link to the short post I write about them when they are first added to provide a bit more context to the questions.

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Mary’s Song

At our church, we sing a song called ‘He who is Mighty’, which I absolutely love. It has a bridge during the song, which starts with the lyrics, ‘Now my soul magnifies the Lord, I rejoice in the God who saves’. So recently as I was reading the gospel of Luke, when I came to Mary’s Song of Praise, commonly called ‘The Magnificat’, I could not get this song out of my head, as it too starts with,

‘And Mary Said, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…” ‘ (Luke 1:46)

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