Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's like Butta'

"Butter at the Ready"

1Pe 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

A recent prayer of my heart has been to learn how to witness for Christ in the very best way. I am learning so much about Him through studying His Word, learning that we are to share Him with everyone, that I desire to do this and do this well. But, how do I open up and just start talking about spiritual things in a physically focused world? I've tried several times and failed. I've kept my mouth shut and failed. I've prayed this in my heart for both those I am in contact with often and for those with whom I only have a single fleeting moment. Each one, each moment and person, orchestrated by God himself. There are no coincidences. All are divine appointments. So, how am I to handle what I know to be true about God?

This question was at the forefront of my heart and mind when my father came to visit us for the weekend. I had just pulled a steaming hot loaf of banana bread from the oven, a loaf I had made with him in mind. While I pulled out the dense loaf and set it on the cooling rack, my heart echoed this prayer, "How do I share you, Lord?" and the Lord brought something to mind, just for me, just for that time.

Knowing God, nothing is wasted, and it is eternally applicable to any believer's life, so I must share this little lesson that I myself so desperately needed to see. Let me give you a little background...

I have a wonderful homeschooling friend, and more importantly, sister in Christ, who encourages me to bake yummy homemade offerings for my children and husband at least weekly if not, I'm sure she would say, daily. She is an avid baker and does so with ease and enjoyment. I on the other hand, am just newly accustomed to baking things that come out of a box, let alone things that I have to make from flour that comes from a bag! :-)

Along with her baking routine, came another peculiar habit that I was even more unfamiliar with. She keeps her butter on her counter at all times. Now, living in Southeast Florida, I admit that when I first became aware of this practice, I found it rather odd and a little 'old-country' for my tastes, although I admit that I could see the usefulness of having butter on the ready for spreading when one baked as often as she did. I on the other hand, was not in the habit of baking. After all I reasoned, all things baked are far too fattening to be made with regularity, or so I (wrongly) thought at the time. I must admit that as I grew into the wonderfully enjoyable habit of baking with some modest regularity (bi-weekly), it became an obvious benefit to leave my butter out on the counter. Butter left out on the counter in its special container is soft and supple, ready to befit anything that might be enhanced by even the slightest smear of butter. "Butter at the ready", I now call it.

Well, as I was doing my Bible Study for the week and learning about Jesus and how he approached people speaking truth to them with all kindness and gentleness, my attention was drawn to my 'butter at the ready'. Inside its container, the butter was soft and warm, pliable and yielding, ready to be smeared on whatever it might be fit to grace. It was not cold or hard or uninviting, nor were it's corners and edges sharp, but soft and curved with the recent swipes of a butter knife. I pondered my container of butter displayed on my counter and felt a familiarity, it was a picture of my heart. Like this butter, my heart was now yielding, warmed by learning of my Creator's love for me and for even the whole world. No longer was my heart cold and hard, tucked away and not ready for immediate use, unfriendly and unyielding. Now, as it were, it was out, warm, and simply ready, available for use. Its very presence inviting and suggesting of enjoyment. Why? All because of the warmth of Jesus' love.

This scenario didn't come together until my father took a thick piece of freshly baked banana bread in his hand and rather than taking a bite, paused and asked me where my butter was. "Oh man," he said, "This is going to be good! Where's your butter??" "What?" I replied, "That's freshly baked banana bread dad, it's practically cake! You don't need any butter on that." Clearly I jokingly took it as an insult at the time, but quietly, warmly, the Lord whispered, "Give him what he's asked for...". All things come from God. Nothing is wasted or irrelevant. I handed my father a butter knife and pointed to the soft butter in the container on the counter. For the first time, I was wonderfully grateful to have it 'at the ready'. "Oh man, this is perfect!" my dad said, as he spread the soft butter all over his sweet, warm bread. It was already melting into the bread as he finally took his first big bite. He enjoyed his bread immensely. More than he would have without the butter. And as I watched I remembered that the Lord said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Jhn 6:35. Jesus is the bread of life. I am to keep my heart as the butter 'at the ready'.

Deu 8:3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Jhn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Rom 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Jesus was always gracious in his dealings with people. He always spoke spiritual truths, parables, parallel stories and examples of our physical world that exemplified spiritual truth. Some understood, but many did not. But this didn't stop Jesus from speaking the truth in love. God is spirit. His truth is spiritually discerned, but Jesus, in His witness of who God is and how great His love is for us, persisted in speaking the truth to us, even when we couldn't understand it. But what made it palatable? What made it desirable, drawing us in to learn more of Him? His grace and God's love. It is by grace that we are saved. We love Him because He first loved us. It is the love of our Savior that melts our hearts. It is His love that makes the truth delicious, a delicacy to be adored in one's heart. There is nothing sweeter than pure truth, the Word of God. But those who do not yet know God, nor understand His word must be drawn to Him, with love.

1Jo 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

We are to love people with truth. God's Word is truth. Only God's Word can change the lives of men. Therefore, it is His Word that we must share. His Word is not only truth, but full of grace. My heart is melted by His grace and truth, by the presence of the Holy Spirit within me. It is my warmed heart, soft and malleable, that responds to His promptings to live out His truth, to give Him all glory and honor and praise. It is our testimony, how we manifest and express what is in our hearts, that butters the truth, God's Bread of Life. How we live our lives should make others hunger to know where our joy comes from. Our personal story of His goodness in our lives, of the warmth and sweetness of His presence and gentle guiding, makes the truth of His new life more palatable, more desirable, more delicious.

It is His love, the evidence of Him in our life, that we have to butter the Bread of Life as we offer it to others when they ask what it is that we have that is so delightful. "Here, may I offer you a piece of freshly baked bread? Would you like some butter with that?" It's delicious! :-) This should be our ready response. God is so good. We are to bring Him glory and share His goodness with others, in truth and love, just as Jesus did. There is no other source of genuine love or truth than God. God is love. He alone has love to give, true love. And He alone has truth to give. We are benefactors of knowing and melting in this love, of growing in this truth. It is our blessing to spread our thanksgiving and adoration upon God's truth as we share with others what He has done for us. It can't get more real, and it couldn't be more delicious. It's like butta'. My heart is butter for You, Lord. :-) Use me.

1Pe 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Lord, thank you for using my life to teach me Your ways. May I appropriately share these little life lessons, that others may also learn and enjoy what You have shown me. May we all remember that You are the Bread of Life, Jesus, and recall that it is our gracious honor to be soft as butter for You, as we offer Your truth and grace to others that they might "taste and see that the Lord is good" - Psalm 34:8.

Jesus, may all glory and honor and power be yours, my Bread of Life. Amen.