Failing at Recipes but Finding Faith

Two years ago, my life (but more specifically, my diet) took an unexpected turn down a very complicated path. I went from being a simple vegetarian to being a gluten-free vegan, just like that. One blood test instantly determined I was one of those people now. The kind with a complicated list of restrictions and awful consequences if I ate what was off-limits.

I felt like I entered a world I knew nothing about, a world where there just seemed to be nothing good left for me to eat. All the fun stuff I used to love eating now made me sick, and life got a lot less interesting. 

Sometimes, I try to ignore it all or pretend like I'm normal and can eat everything. Tonight was one of those nights, and I set out to bake banana bread.

I used a "normal" recipe (aka a recipe with regular flour) and decided I would modify it to be gluten-free on my own. It all seemed great until I pulled it out of the oven. It looked exactly like the crumbly dough I put into the pan twenty minutes earlier, and it looked nothing like any kind of banana bread I would want to eat.

I tried it, and it sucked. Honestly. It was awful. It was dry and bitter from the weird flavor of gluten-free flour, and not at all gooey or sweet, even though I had added lots of vegan chocolate chips to make it tasty.

I left the pan to cool and I walked away.

I sat down to my open Bible on the kitchen table and I started thinking about my life. I started thinking about the ways I respond to Scripture.

I read my Bible and I see what God is asking of me or stating I should do, and I realize it's much like a recipe. He has given me this recipe for a free and abundant life with Him, and I read it and take it in, and then I make the modifications that I feel are necessary. 

I read "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and then I love the Lord my God with part of my heart and I neglect my soul and I use my mind to rationalize it all away with doubts and faulty logic.

I see Jesus telling me to forgive my brother seventy-seven times, but I choose to harbor bitterness and resentment instead.

I hear Jesus saying to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and welcome the stranger, but instead I turn away and ignore the needs and the needy.

I've heard people say that Christianity seems like just a long list of rules. I think they probably feel about becoming a Christian like I felt about becoming a gluten-free vegan-- that this lifestyle is just a long list of complicated restrictions with awful consequences if we slip up. It seems like there is nothing good left to enjoy when so much is cut out, right? (Gluten-free vegans can't eat cheesecake or juicy steaks or drink craft brews...Christians can't have sex or get drunk or get high...I can see how that would seem similarly "boring" and more bland to others, can't you?)

But as a Christian, as a believer in the Bible, I have a recipe in front of me, measured and balanced and crafted to yield a wonderful and everlasting result. Instead of following it obediently, I assume I know better and make a huge mess of things.

I substitute my selfishness for sacrificial servanthood. I substitute my rebelliousness for trusting obedience. I substitute anxiety and doubt for faith, hatred and bitterness for love, wandering for following.

And I'm surprised when it doesn't turn out right. I'm surprised when my life falls apart instead of coming together. I'm surprised when I end up heartbroken or alone or hurt. I'm surprised when my plans fail and I get off track and feel like I've hit rock bottom.

I shouldn't be surprised at all.

It's in these moments when I've realized all of my mistakes that I seem to hear the gentle voice of my loving Father whisper to me and draw me back in. That wasn't the life I wanted for you, beloved. I have so much more for you. Follow Me. Follow My path, My plans, My instructions and commandments. I know you thought you knew better. I know you thought your ways would work. Do you see now? The plans I put before you weren't to trap you or steal your freedom or take away your creativity. I have a life for you that's abundant and free. It's a wild adventure and I promise you will love it. You have no idea how good it will turn out. Child, just follow Me. Trust Me.

I've realized obedience is better. I've realized I don't know best, and my choices don't always yield great results. I've realized it's better to trust and to follow. And I've realized "normal" banana bread is just unbeatable.