The Unexpected Joy of Whole Grains
#12 in Reflections of Life's Unexpected Joys
The Unexpected Joy of Whole Grains.
I've been pondering the joy of nutritious eating. Specifically as it relates to bread. I wasn't always a whole grain girl. As a child I definitely preferred the wonderful soft white Wonder Bread. My mother didn't always buy it, usually it was brown, but still soft. There was nothing grainy or heavy added. The best bread of all was my grandmother's freshly baked white bread. That was bread that I could eat a lot of! Over the years though, my bread eating habits have taken a turn to the more nutritious side of life.
I didn't change from white bread all at once. First I would buy the brown Wonder Bread. Still soft and fluffy but at least it was brown. Then in an effort to be grown up I began to purchase cracked wheat. I began to develop a taste for bread with a bit of a crunch. After this I began experimenting with Country Harvest breads. They are darker and heavier than the whole wheat Wonder Bread. Pretty soon I began to really enjoy a sandwich on these heavier breads. There is weight to this bread. Just picking it up feels healthy because you feel sure that it is packed with all kinds of nutritious grains and oats. Why else would it weigh so much?
Now, thanks to my sister-in-law who has recently quit her job to stay home with my two nieces. I have begun baking my own bread. The reason being, that my sister-in-law has an extremely keen intellect and a thirst for research. In her quest to be an excellent homemaker she began researching food and nutrition. As a result, she discovered there are all kinds of additives in the store bought bread and she began baking her own bread. She made it sound so simple and wholesome that one day when my bread cupboard was empty I decided that I would give bread baking a try. At the moment it seemed simpler than loading up four children to go to a store to buy bread. Well, it turns out that I've become addicted to bread baking. Not just any bread either. I make bread with stuff in it. I'm experimenting with adding all kinds of things, like flax seeds, sunflower seeds, bran, oats and wheat germ. My theory being that anything with an ingredient called "wheat germ" has got to be healthy.
It has taken me many years to go from white bread to crunchy, seedy, wheat germ infested bread. But now I can hardly stand to purchase white bread. I have come to appreciate the satisfaction of eating the hearty breads. I love the sense of well-being I feel when I know I have filled up with useful calories, giving my body nutrients it needs.
It makes me think about my walk with the Lord Jesus. In John 6:46 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." I began to wonder what sort of bread I would picture in my mind. And then I realized that everyone of us is at a different point in our relationship with Christ. Some have not yet taken the step of faith to enter into a relationship with Christ. They are like someone who is just looking at bread, wondering if it would be something for them. To others who are new in their relationship with Christ their bread might be the white, fluffy kind. They are just beginning to learn more of Christ and get to know Him better. Others have moved out of the fluffy white bread stage. They are looking for more nourishment. They've moved into the cracked wheat stage. They are starting to dig into their Bibles, to seek a deeper relationship with Christ. Then there are others that have moved deeper still. Their relationship with Christ is at the flax seed and wheat germ stage. They want the bread that fills and satisfies, gives nutrients and health to their souls. Their walk with Christ has grit and substance. Only Christ can satisfy them.
Fluffy white bread is a good place to start...at least you are eating bread, but there is room for improvement from a nutrition stand point. It is the same from a faith standpoint. Our early relationship with Christ is a great place to start, but if we desire to grow in our faith we will need to move on from that point and seek a deeper and deeper relationship.
When I was eating fluffy white bread and my mother would eat her hearty brown breads, I felt sorry for her and wondered how she could possibly enjoy those obviously healthy breads. But now I too have acquired the taste for these breads.
When I was younger in my faith I would look at those whose faith was deeper and I would think I could never have faith like that. It looked like it would be too hard and to my teenage mind a little too boring. But as I move along in my faith I can truly say that there is satisfaction, joy and spiritual nutrition in going deeper and deeper into my relationship with Christ. Just as there has been unexpected joy for me in whole grains, so there is deep joy in a closer walk with the Lord. I cannot say that there is unexpected joy in this fact because Jesus Himself told us in John 15 that if we remain in Him His joy will be in us and our joy will be complete. It is not something that can be explained, it can only be experienced. My mother used to go on and on about how good her hearty bread was and I simply couldn't believe her. Other Christians used to go on and on about how wonderful it was to rise early and spend time reading their Bibles and praying. I wasn't there yet. I always fell asleep while I was praying. But now, years later, through growth and change, learning and experience I too can say that there is amazing joy in knowing Christ, in walking with Him and in digging deeper into the faith. I hope each of you can come to experience this joy too and I hope that those of us who already have had glimpses of this joy will keep going because there is always more to discover.