As soon as the buzzer sounded signaling that the cinnamon applesauce cake had finished baking, I removed it and slid six loaves of rosemary garlic bread into the oven. “There,” I thought as I closed the oven door, “if I put the water on to boil now and make a salad, everything should be ready by 5:30 when the students show up.”
In an attempt to convince one of the 8th grade girls that healthy vegetarian food could be tasty, Pedro had invited her over for dinner—and allowed her to bring four friends with her. Although at the time I thought I could handle two meals for students in a row, I had started to question my judgement.
Due to subbing for other teachers, long meetings and teaching my regular load, I scarcely had time to fit grocery shopping in to the week, and I felt rather accomplished that I’d made a cake from scratch, prepared fresh pesto sauce for the entrée AND made bread.
Whilst making the bread, I had paid close attention to the story my daughter Katrina shared with me about problems she had with a friend. I offered an empathetic ear and not too much advice (not offering too much advice is a skill I’ve been working hard to develop).
Yep. This meal would come out just fine—although, the bread had seemed a little stiff as I kneaded it. But, since it had risen just fine, I figured it would turn out as usual—light, fluffy, crusty and ready for us to rip chunks off and dip them in olive oil. As Katrina set the table, I grabbed the loaves from the oven and my anticipation turned to trepidation. The bread may have risen fine the first time, but now the loaves resembled weapons of mass destruction—better for sword fighting and ripping the head off of imaginary enemies then ripping and dipping in olive oil.
So hard, in fact, that I had to cut the end off one loaf in order to see if it tasted normal. It didn’t. “The salt!” I exclaimed. “I forgot to put salt in the bread.” Evidently, I haven’t attained that level of mindless baking where I can listen attentively AND get all the ingredients in.
The pot of water and potatoes threatened to boil over, and I quickly turned down the heat and dumped in the pasta. “You could cut the loaves in half and salt them,” Katrina suggested.
And so I did. It wouldn’t be the same, but if I hurried, I should have time to add butter and salt, wrap the loaves in tinfoil and pop them back into the oven so the melting butter could carry the lifeline of salt down into the bread capillaries and save the day.
It didn’t work out exactly as planned. Four of the students forgot to come over and when the eight of us finally sat down to eat supper twenty minutes late—well, the bread tasted like unsalted rocks (with garlic and rosemary, of course).
It didn’t matter though. The students politely tried a piece of rock, and dug into the salad and pasta dish (something they had never tried before), and ended up eating seconds and thirds while still saving room for cake.
As they left, I contemplated the function of salt. Not enough, and bread turns out like rocks. Too much, and it can harm a body or stunt the growth of plants. I know about stunted plants from personal experience.
Our first summer in Holbrook, I nurtured four little tomato plants that never seemed to thrive. I watered them, fertilized them, and waited for them to grow. They spent the entire growing season progressing from two inches tall to eight inches tall. By September, they each produced three sad-looking miniature tomatoes. It took a whole winter of wondering what had gone wrong and a visit to an arboretum in Southern Arizona to figure out that our water has too much salt in it. And too much salt in the soil pulls water out of the plant’s cells—which prevents it from thriving.
How often do we as Christians come on too strong to those we know—whether believers, non-believers or new believers—and suck the water out of their cells. Does our saltiness suck the joy out of their walk with Jesus? Click To Tweet Do we get confused between personal preferences and saving grace? Do we push tradition over teaching about the love of Jesus?
Or maybe we’re timid and don’t know how (or really want to) share what we know with others. Instead of seasoning the world around us with the love of God, we cling to the inside of the shaker and hope we’re never called on to witness in any way to anyone.
Jesus calls us salt. Salt has intrinsic value because it seasons food and preserves it. It’s mentioned in the Bible as an element of covenants between God and man because it represents longevity. Throughout history, nations have fought over salt. Without salt, things would be flavorless, out of balance and rot more easily. The world needs #Christians to provide flavor, balance and prevent rottenness. Click To Tweet
Too often I’ve been caught in the trap of legalism and thinking that if I follow all the right rules and do all the right things that God will bless me and save me. I forget that Jesus offers #salvation freely to all who believe. Click To Tweet
Just as often, I’ve been afraid to witness to others—to let them know where my source of joy stems from. It has taken cancer in the family and lots of practice to feel comfortable sharing what I’ve learned with others in a natural way—I’m starting to finally feel a bit like salt.
What about you? Do you struggle with your saltiness or do you cling to the shaker?