Seeing through it…

Here in the UK, it’s ‘Bake Off’ season (a TV contest for home bakers) and once again we’re being shown the importance of the ‘windowpane test’. This is a way of discovering whether dough has been sufficiently kneaded – if it can be stretched to the point that light can shine through it, it indicates that the gluten is well developed and the dough is ready to rise.

photo source http://pinchmysalt.com

It strikes me that the same can apply to us. It can be the people whom life knocks about, and who are stretched to unimagined points, that can end up with light shining through them.
Stories come to mind of people who were abused, helping others seeking freedom; people who’ve known what it is to be in need, advocating a better state of affairs for the disadvantaged; people familiar with disability or depression, offering empathy and empowerment to those facing difficulties.

As a believer, I trust that God will never stretch me beyond my limit. While we cannot always choose our circumstances, we can decide how we react.
Truth is, after months of physical and emotional challenges, I feel like a bit of pummelled dough and I find that my responses are variable!
In my better moments, I take a step back, and see the whole picture with small shafts of light shining through.
In my darker moments, I struggle to see clearly, until I realise that God the Master Baker is at work, rising from the ingredients of everyday life.

Trevor Dennis, retired Dean of Chester Cathedral and author of The Three Faces of Christ, has likened God to a baker:

My God was in the middle of baking bread and up to her elbows in flour, and she came out to just to see me. I didn’t know she wore a pinny!
She came right up to me and gave me a great big hug. Like no hug I’d ever had before. And that was my judgement day. I’ve never been the same since. And I still have the marks of God’s floury hands on my back. Everyone does up here.

Dough is transformed by kneading. It responds to warm firm handing, so I’m going to see it through, hoping that God’s light will shine through it all…

Truth is… Remember that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.  (I Corinthians 10:13)

Pawsome priorities

My Assistance Dog, Marshall, lives in the present rather than fretting about what the future might hold. He doesn’t have a mind full of ‘what ifs’. Instead, he lives in a mindful way in the here and now.

Truth is, I can sometimes be like a ‘dog with a bone’, excessively ruminating over things. But Marshall reminds me of more awesome priorities:

He finds joy in the moment. Before covid-19 necessitated staying in, I didn’t really understand why he gets excited seeing passers-by.

Hearing Dogs Appeal Shoot

Now I know! Never underestimate the effect of connecting with others in a cheery way.

He doesn’t hide his need for affection and nudges me to ruffle his fur. It’s heart-warming to show our love for each other. The same applies to human relationships.

He soaks up the warmth of sunny days. If we absorb the warmth of others (kind gestures and encouraging words) the coldness with which we may treat ourselves, will be thawed.

He is attuned to others. When he senses someone is hurting, he comes alongside and offers a comforting gentle nuzzle. We can show empathy for others in quiet intuitive ways too.

He digs up what he’s buried – when he feels the moment has come. Recognising the right time for action, is important.

He never growls for the sake of it. Some battles aren’t worth fighting.

He finds pleasure in the simplest things, like walking in the woods, paddling in the stream, or playing with his pals. We too, need to take time for refreshing recreation.

Hearing Dogs Appeal Shoot

He is simply a dog. He doesn’t try to be anything other, nor does he make comparisons. We could save ourselves a lot of frustration and dissatisfaction, if we were simply ourselves.

He always greets me with exuberant enthusiasm, if we’ve ever been apart. We too, need to let others know that they really matter to us.

So let’s live life to the full, by learning any necessary life lessons from Marshall. It’s not for nothing that dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’!

Truth is… Jesus said, “I have come that I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10)

Photo credits: 2019 Paul Wilkinson Photography (Hearing Dogs for Deaf People)