Daily Devotions

A Baker's Example

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…for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)

A friend shared a spiritual story of fortitude with me, that was printed in the Iowa Life section of the Des Moines Register on Monday, March 4, 2019. Martha Wolf told her story of how each of us can “Bake Yourself Free.” Martha said, “I didn’t lose it after my father died when I was 12, and I didn’t lose it when my brother and sister both died of cancer in their late 40’s. But my faith was wavering now.” What shook Martha to her core was her impending divorce. She struggled to find her “new single identity.” But rather than lose herself in despair, Martha responded through the help of a friend.

Martha knew she “needed to be busy and feel productive,” if she had any hope of overcoming this spiritual blow to her life. She and a friend decided to open a Bake Shoppe. At first, it was less about the money, and more about nurturing “my sense of purpose,” so “I was no longer feeling defined by the divorce.” Martha and her friend worked hard, making baked goods out of Martha’s home kitchen. The business kept growing. They went from selling their baked goods to a grocery store and convenience stores, to people coming directly to their home to buy their baked goods. In time, her ex-husband helped the two women get into their own building. Soon, the bakery became a restaurant, which turned into multiple restaurants.

Still, Martha remained humble. She said, “I realized the success of a business isn’t always about the business itself, but about the soul of those running it.” Rather than lose her soul to an unhappy marriage, Martha overcame her fears and sadness, and brought hope back to her life. She said, “In all honesty, my former husband took the hit for getting us out of a marriage that was not working. I would never have had the courage to do that. My children are so much healthier in their relationships than had we stayed together.” And now, her husband works for her!

Not all stories have such a happy ending, but our life stories have a better chance of succeeding if we can learn from Martha. It isn’t a sin to doubt God in our moments of despair. It is a sin to let your despair fester, until you feel there is nothing left to live for. Rather than sulk, Martha nurtured the relationships she still had, and developed new ones. She knew she needed to be part of something bigger than herself. She continued to trust God, even when she didn’t understand. And finally, she made her life bigger than it had been before. Let us pray today, that we can face our own adversity, by making our lives bigger, rather than smaller. Thank you, Martha, for your brave and faithful example!

Miracle: Surviving Nebraska

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He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.” (Luke 18:27)

I find myself disliking the idea of miracles. At first glance, I bet that sounds nuts. But try to think about it from my perspective. For every supposed miracle, there are millions of people who never received one. At first glance, I would feel better if God never provided we humans with miracles. It creates an environment of inequality. Why does one get a miracle, and one doesn’t?

I am humbled by the great and small miracles in my life. When I was a boy my family was caught in a tornado in Grand Island, Neb. As we ran into the downtown hotel, the windows blew in. There was a lot of destruction and we were trapped in the basement with other families for some time. Why did we survive that night when others didn’t? In late spring of 2012, Jill, Hannah, and I were returning from Colorado, and ended up in the middle of a group of tornadoes. It was miraculous that we were not hurt. It was the same night the boy scouts were killed by tornadoes in western Iowa. Again, why did we receive a miracle, and the boys didn’t get one?

Why does a tornado hit one house and miss another? While I do not have the answers, I find it easier to discuss what miracles are not. Miracles are not for deserving people. Miracles are more indiscriminate than something that can be earned. Therefore, miracles must be for a greater purpose, and not something just for the deserving. I believe that purpose is to somehow glorify God. Now, I do not always know, in the moment, how a particular miracle glorifies God, but I can believe without understanding.

When it comes to miracles, it is important to spend less time asking why, and more time saying, “thank you.” I feel blessed to have extra time on this earth and with my family. Rather than contemplate the why, I will try to live a life worthy of the miracle I received, twice in Nebraska, forty years apart. I hope that if I am not the recipient of a miracle, and someone else is, that I will still be able to glorify God for the miracle another received. Today, ponder the miracles you’ve experienced. Offer God your “thank you,” and commit to living the rest of your life worthy of the miraculous gift you received. 

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