A New Understanding of…Yeast

 Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 6:16

Malachi sleeping amongst some of the many remedies for thrush we have tried

Who knew? Who knew that something SO tiny could consume my every waking moment, as for FOUR weeks  now Malachi and I have been battling thrush with ointments, pills, solutions, cleanses, major diet restrictions, not to mention all the pots of boiling water to sterilize everything, hundreds of loads of laundry, scrubbing everything we touch and toting tons of items out to sit in the sunshine for hours.  We spent two of those weeks pumping, then feeding, then sterilizing everything involved, in an attempt to keep us from passing it back and forth to one another. I have researched every remedy known to man as to how to get rid of this thrush and more importantly the yeast overgrowth that causes it.  I have an all-new understanding of yeast.

This yeast was always there, but it multiplied when my immune system was weak, and once it had taken hold it manifested itself in excruciating pain.

It is so subtle and undetected by the naked eye.  It grows, ever growing, and the place it proliferates is in the dark and damp, those hidden places.

Eat certain foods and the yeast feasts on it, growing profusely.  Abstain from those foods and you gradually starve it to death.

Yeast hates sunlight, because its the opposite of what it needs to grow.

As, day in and day out, we have battled this thrush in our home, I have received a deeper appreciation for the Bible’s mention of it.

Yeast, or lack there-of, in the Old Testament, was cause for an an entire week’s worth of celebration following the Passover each year. To celebrate this “Feast of Unleavened Bread”, one had to entirely rid one’s home of yeast (and this is NO easy chore, as I’ve been laboring for four weeks to do so) and then spend the week of feasting without the yeast as any part of the meals. The whole week was a physical representation of being cleansed and rid of that which is unwanted.

Then again, in the New Testament, in Jesus’ warning to his disciples to “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy” Luke 12:1 we continue to see that yeast is bad, unwanted, to be rid of and be cautious of.

  Yeast is sin.

And I have thrush of the soul.

The sin of hypocrisy-of being self-sufficient, self-dependent, self-absorbed, and self-righteous, being a God-hater because I want to be god of my own life, can be harbored in my heart, undetected by the naked eye of the soul.

But then when I am weak and vulnerable, just as my immune system was a month ago, it opens up a place for that sin to grab a foothold. It grows subtly in the dark, hidden places, the places unexposed to Sonlight.  It multiplies and multiplies, until I am so infected, it manifests itself in excruciating pain.

For the yeast of my heart, hurts me, my walk with God, my relationships with those around me, my community, the world. I am a source of the infection of sin that so ransacks the brokenness of this planet. It is not just my individual battle, all I come in contact with are exposed to it.

And just as my physical diet has been greatly restricted these past four weeks, my spiritual diet can starve it…or feed it.

So, in an effort to starve that sinful nature, and feast upon that which fights it, I fix my eyes on The Feast of the Unleavened Bread, which gives me a beautiful preview of what Jesus, the Son, would do to kill this rampant infection of my soul.  The yeast was not cleared from the home until the day AFTER the Passover. First I need the Passover, then the cleansing can occur. Jesus, the perfect Passover Lamb, was slaughtered, that the judgement of God might pass over me, and be taken by His Son. After the sacrifice, the cleaning happens.  My sin is no longer my own.  It has been dealt with, paid for, cleared by Jesus. And now I can enjoy the feasting of life with Him, free of this yeast of my soul because He has done the cleansing. All that being “self-sufficient, self-dependent, self-absorbed, and self-righteous, being a God-hater because I want to be god of my own life”, can be starved and exposed to Sonlight because of Jesus’ death and resurrected Life made available to me.  That life now lives IN me, and as I invite Him into the hidden, dark places of my heart and life, His Light makes it incompatible to sin’s harboring and growth.

So, Sweet Jesus, let your Light shine in me, killing off the thrush of my soul.

Jesus, let your Light shine through me, killing, little by little, the thrush of this world.

Two Ways of Being Carried

“…In His love and mercy, He redeemed them;

He lifted them up and carried them as in the days of old.”              

Isaiah 63:9

There’s only two ways to do it…the whole “being carried.” business. We can either willingly be carried by the Holy Spirit, or we can try to move forward in our own power, and end up being carried away by temptation.

I always start out attempting to do the undoable task of walking independently.  Don’t we all? We want to do it our way, with our own effort, by our brute strength and will power. We even attempt good things, setting out with our own determination and desire to serve God, “do the right thing”, be a good parent, care for those around us, try to stay away from sin. I have spent the greater portion of my Christian life attempting this. I muster up a new resolve to follow and obey, but my inner strength and focus doesn’t really last long.  As soon as that temptation to indulge that craving for chocolate when I feel like having some, or the rage that erupts when the kids aren’t behaving as I want them to, or irritation that gives way to disrespect when my husband doesn’t use his time the way I think is important.  As soon as those things hit, swwwooooosh!  I’m being carried away by the currents of selfishness and sin.

Photo by Jim Christensen

Photo by Jim Christensen

This is the first way of being carried. I am carried this way often, and those currents deposit me in a place I hate being. Muddied, murky waters of brokenness-broken relationships with children, with spouse, with God.

But it makes sense that the ending place is a pool of selfishness, because the whole process started with self. I am the beginning and the ending.  I started the day, the process, the situation with ME walking forth in an attempt to follow God in the midst of the stream. And it is ME that gives way to the rush of the moment, failing miserably. And ME wallowing in the puddle of self pity, self condemnation, self inflicted guilt. I have become the alpha and omega. And its ugly.

But there is the supreme Alpha and Omega, that is more than willing to do the carrying. In fact, He has already done the massive carrying.  The carrying of my sin, repeated failures, and the messes I made has been done by Him upon that cross.  He carried all the brokenness that this prideful (boy, it would feel good to be able to do this on my own) selfish, seeking-to-be-autonomous sinner has made. But the carrying didn’t happen just once over 2000 years ago on Calvary. It happens daily, hourly, momently.

When I start my day, declaring, “I must be carried by you, Lord, or else I will be carried away by all the currents of temptation and chaos that come streaming towards me!” He is faithful to lift these wobbling knees out of the stream, and over the rushing waters. And I see God work in real time, what he did thousands of years ago for the Israelites, “…how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself.” (Ex. 19:4) And God is so much smarter than my formula-loving self, for if it only took one declaration at the beginning of the day, then I would not be brought to Him but to a formula that I can check off my list, thus repeating the cycle of being self-centered and self-sufficient.

No, I must cry “Carry me!” in the early a.m. when lunches need to be made, breakfast serve, Bible read, and kids ushered out the door, after I’ve been up all night with the baby.  I cry, “Carry me!” when, while occupied nursing Malachi, Benjamin has written on the wall and unrolled the toilet paper while Katy-Grace didn’t quite make it to the potty, and Trinity’s downstairs trying to (very messily) make herself a snack. I hum, “Carry me!” when in the afternoon, I am tired and could consume half the bag of chocolate chips in an attempt to get a sugar boost.  I sing out “Carry me!” when everyone needs something at once and tonight Danny’s working late and I’m flying solo doing dinner, feeding, clean-up, baths, and family devotions….for five children. I whisper, “Carry me!” when I can’t turn my mind off from those critical, judgmental musings or those thoughts absorbed with self.  I moan “Carry me!” during weeks like last one, when I had the stomach flu and then dealt with it spreading through our family , many of whom don’t know how to make it to the bathroom in time. And, this week,  I CRY (literally!), “Carry Me!!” through every excruciatingly painful feeding of my baby with thrush, which has been spreading like wildfire.

And since HE carries me, I am enabled to “take up my cross” in each of those situations and carry it to follow Him (Luke 14:27)

And those strong arms, carry me.

Those strong promises of Isaiah 40:11-

He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

and Isaiah 49:4

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and rescue you”,

they carry me.

Jars of Clay’s song Dead Man (Carry Me) has truly helped me sing, “Carry me!” in those moments.